A 7-month-old girl saved thanks to a delicate pediatric heart surgery

A 7-month-old girl saved thanks to a delicate pediatric heart surgery

Publication date: 14-07-2023

Updated on: 14-07-2023

Topic: Pediatrics

Estimated reading time: 1 min

"We feared that she would die. His little heart was not working properly. The drugs were not taking effect. I, my wife and our other four children, after the joy of her birth, had plunged into despondency and despair. But then, thanks to the doctors, hope was rekindled and today our little Nour is alive. She is a cheerful and lively child. She always smiles and is the mascot of the whole family." 

His eyes are shining, Mohammed, 50, originally from Morocco but a resident of Pontida for 13 years. He is the father of Nour, a little girl only 7 months old with already a pediatric heart surgery behind her, a delicate surgery that saved her life, the result of the professionalism and collaboration between Policlinico San Pietro of Bergamo and Policlinico San Donato of Milan. 

Clinical history

Little Nour's ordeal began immediately after birth: the baby, who had Down syndrome, was not breathing well, was unable to feed herself and was not growing as she should. Concerned parents turned to pediatricians at Policlinico San Pietro who, given the child's condition, suspected it might have been a heart problem.

So, Nour immediately underwent a cardiologic examination with Dr. Paolo Ferrero, a pediatric cardiologist and researcher at the Congenital Heart Disease Unit at Policlinico San Donato, directed by Professor Massimo Chessa, and, for about a year and a half, referent of the pediatric cardiology outpatient clinic at Policlinico San Pietro, where 500 children with congenital heart disease from the Bergamo area, but not only, have already been followed.

Diagnosis: intraventricular septal defect

The diagnosis left no doubt: the baby had a large intraventricular septal defect. 

"This is a congenital defect due to which a blood passage is created between the right and left ventricles. If left untreated, this condition can lead to such a severe clinical state of heart failure that it is incompatible with survival. Even in cases where the initial stage is overcome, the disease evolves to a condition of pulmonary hypertension, a condition that is still burdened with high mortality over time," Dr. Ferrero explains. 

Treatment: from drug therapy to surgery

There was no alternative: drug therapy had to be started as soon as possible. "In these conditions, the standard approach is to attempt stabilization with antidecompensation drugs in order to postpone surgery until the child gains more weight." 

So, the little one, always under close observation, first at Policlinico San Pietro's neonatology unit headed by Dr. Lovati and later in the pediatrics unit headed by Dr. Kantar, began treatment. Initially, the medication seemed to be working, but after an initial improvement the situation began to regress with major signs of heart failure

All that remained was surgery. Father Mohammed and mother Fatima had full confidence in the doctors, but the fear was great. Nour was just over 1 month old, she was a wren, and, as she also carried Down syndrome, was even more delicate.

"Despite her less than ideal condition, there was no alternative to surgery, so we transferred her to Policlinico San Donato, a center of excellence for the treatment of congenital heart disease like Nour's, to undergo corrective surgery to close the intraventricular septal defect." 

The days leading up to the surgery for Mom and Dad and also for Nour's sisters and brothers were the most difficult, a mixture of fear and dread, expectation and hope. The operation, performed by Dr. Alessandro Giamberti, director of the department of peditric heart surgery and pediatric and congenital heart diseases, and his team, was successfully completed. For parents, it was a real sigh of relief. 

After a couple of months of hospitalization, Nour was discharged and could finally return home with her family. For the parents, being able to finally see her smiling again, playing, moving her little hands seeking contact with them was like a miracle. A miracle that was the result of great teamwork between specialists and hospitals with one goal: to save small lives.

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