Innovative Heart Procedure Saves a Baby's Life

Born three months early, Kaylin also had three heart defects. It was touch and go until doctors at Texas Children's performed an innovative procedure that saved her life.

Nancy Baker’s pregnancy was perfectly normal and uneventful—right up until the night her daughter came into the world three months early.  Born weighing barely two pounds, Kaylin Baker was considered a micro preemie.

Nancy and her husband Chris were terrified. They had no idea if a baby so little could survive. Then doctors delivered more devastating news: “Kaylin has a congenital heart defect.

Kaylin actually had several defects: a bicuspid aortic valve (two valve flaps instead of three), critical aortic valve stenosis (narrowing of the valves, and a coarctation of the aorta (severe narrowing of the aortic arch).

Within four weeks, her condition became critical. Her tiny heart was working overtime to pump blood to her body through the narrowed valve and aorta. Without medical intervention, Kaylin’s heart would fail and she would die. Soon, our “Kangaroo Crew” jet was racing to bring Kaylin to Houston!

Nancy shudders thinking about Kaylin’s transfer to Houston—how afraid she was they wouldn’t make it in time to save her child. She remembers the words of the neonatologist in the NICU at Kaylin’s birth hospital telling her: “If you believe, you need to pray because we don’t know if she’s going to make it through the night.

“Once we arrived at Texas Children’s,” Nancy remembered, “I just knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be.

The Bakers had been met by Dr. Henri Justino and other members of the cardiac team who would work to save their child’s life. Because of her tiny size and frailty, it was agreed that open-heart surgery was not an option.

Thankfully, Dr. Justino is renowned for his expertise using cardiac catheterization to treat small children.  For Kaylin, even the standard way of performing that procedure would have been risky, so he tried another innovative approach.  Instead of placing the catheter into the femoral artery in Kaylin’s leg and snaking it up to her heart, he inserted it through a pinprick-sized hole in the carotid artery in her neck.

When the catheter reached Kaylin’s tiny heart, a balloon at its tip was inflated to widen her constricted valve. Then Dr. Justino placed an adult-sized wire mesh stent in the narrowed section of her aortic arch to widen it and hold it open.

This pioneering procedure was Kaylin’s only chance to survive.

At Texas Children’s Hospital, extremely sick and injured children and their distraught parents find hope—and your support helps make it possible.

Kaylin’s cardiac catheterization was an outstanding success! Within four days, she was well enough to head back to the NICU at her local hospital. Her mom is quick to point out that the special catheterization procedure was only the first of many “miracles” Texas Children’s has performed for Kaylin, who is now a bright, energetic, and healthy little girl.

Last year, Kaylin underwent four more procedures to correct her congenital heart defects. Chris and Nancy have complete confidence that Texas Children’s will continue to provide solutions as Kaylin needs them.

“Texas Children’s has been a complete godsend, the answer to our prayers. Everyone there is like family to us. We tell other parents: ‘Don’t walk—run to Texas Children’s!’”

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