The first few days of motherhood were a dream come true for Alexandra Pena, who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on May 5.
“He was eating, sleeping and doing all the things a newborn baby does.” But after a week of being home, Baby J began to show signs of distress. “He started crying a lot, his breathing was heavy and he vomited,” said Ms. Pena.
His maternal grandmother, who was spending time with Ms. Pena during those first few days of motherhood, noticed the baby’s chest working hard to get a breath out. The family took him to the pediatrician, who immediately informed them he was in distress. The doctor advised the family to take him to the hospital where a pediatric cardiologist revealed his heart was very sick.
He was transferred to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital to await surgery for a crucial coarctation of the aorta, a birth defect in which the aorta is more narrowed than usual.
“We had to be flown to Nicklaus Children’s,” said Ms. Pena. “I had never seen anything like it, my baby was as white as our bed sheets,” she said.
Dr. Anthony Rossi, Director of the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Nicklaus Children’s, says had the family waited any longer, he would probably not have made it.
Baby J was admitted to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit shortly after arriving at Nicklaus Children’s and he was stabilized with medication that temporarily opens his valves with medicine. She then met with the Director of Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Redmond Burke, who reassured her that her baby would be receiving great care.
“He gave me the confidence I needed to know that he would be just fine,” said Ms. Pena.
Baby J underwent surgery one day later to widen and repair his aorta, which is responsible for pumping blood into his heart. The surgery was a complete success and Baby J is now a healthy baby boy. In fact, he was sent home just a week after surgery.
Mrs. Pena says Baby J is doing great and eating like a champ. “I think he is trying to make up for all that he couldn’t eat when he was sick. We are so grateful to the entire team for everything they did for my sweet boy.”