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Large Surgery on the Small Heart


First in Ukraine, the specialists of the Heart Institute began to make unique surgeries on the premature infants with very low weight.

On August 7, 2018 the team of doctors – Vasyl Karpenko (Leader), Volodymyr Vashkeba, Irina Galamay – saved a baby with a critical congenital heart disease. Previously, such a diagnosis – the critical aortal coarctation – was heard as a verdict, and with it the babies often would not live longer than a month.

Little Oleksiy, brought by Ambulance car to Kyiv from Kherson, became the second operated child with such a diagnosis. The baby is one of the twins. Together with his brother Andrew he was born on the 32d week of pregnancy. His little brother was born healthy, but Oleksiy immediately needed intensive care.

In a ward where a tiny patient is located, a piece of cotton serves as a pillow, and the diaper reaches the boy’s breast. With a height of 40 centimeters and a weight of 1.3 kg, Oleksiy has a serious surgery in his recent past.

Previously, such patients have been not operated in Ukraine. For the first time, the surgeons ventured similar operation a month ago, and it was also conducted at the Heart Institute. Now another premature baby is saved, as Oleksiy became the second victory of the kind for the specialists.

Vasyl Karpenko: “The boy was quite prematurely born with a diagnosis of Critical Aortal Coarctation. This means a critical congenital constriction of the aorta, which is the main vessel of the body. Without assistance, such children often die during the first month of life. This happens because a narrow place makes it very difficult for the heart to push blood. As a result, the heart just gets tired and stops. The surgery was done on the open heart. We got to the main vessel, the aorta, saw an existing narrowing, cut it off and made the plastic of the aorta in such a way that there was no narrowing anymore.”

According to the cardiac surgeon, the plastic was made with the baby’s own tissues, so that the aorta could then grow as the body grows.

Oleksiy’s mother, Julia cannot believe her own eyes. First she was shocked with the diagnosis, and then just in a few days she is overwhelmed of such a victory.

“I can’t even imagine how doctors managed to handle such very small vessels,” she says.

The father of the twins is going to get Oleksiy acquainted with his brother who is currently being cared by their grandmother in Kherson. Andriy is a kilogram heavier than his brother and feels fine.

Kherson doctors rejoice in a joint victory. They quickly diagnosed Oleksiy, contacted Kiev and found a cardiac surgeon who agreed to conduct such an operation. Local doctors confirmed that the situation was very serious, and it was impossible to predict the disease during pregnancy. The major cue was a significant (about 1 kg) weight difference of the twins.

Neonatologist of the Kherson Children’s Hospital Alina Skliar emphasizes: ‘Quite often there are such heart defects, which can be diagnosed only after the birth of a child. Since the baby in the mother’s abdomen was more difficult to develop and had heavily reduced weight, it was more difficult to diagnose the pathology.’

On August 10, Aleksey arrived in Kherson in a special medical box to join his brother.

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