Approximately two weeks after his birth, Zavin’s parents noticed something was not quite right. An examination found that his heart had a defect that was preventing proper circulation.
He was flown by helicopter to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where physicians discovered his heart's major arteries were reversed, so red blood wasn't reaching much of his body. The surgery, performed by Dr. Jorge Salazar, lasted hours. Salazar and his team relocated the arteries and patched two holes in Zavin's heart. The infant's color began to return.
It was the first time an arterial switch had been done on an infant in Mississippi. Prior to Salazar joining Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in April, no place in the state was equipped to handle complex surgeries on children with congenital heart defects. So, infants had to be flown to hospitals out of state – a hardship on babies and their parents.
Since April, Salazar has operated on 55 children, and now UMC anticipates performing one or more arterial switches a month.
“At least one in 1,000 births are babies who have a heart defect,” Salazar said. “And there are about 45,000 births a year in Mississippi.” The procedure entailed Salazar, director of Blair E. Batson's congenital heart program, opening the child’s chest, stopping his heart, rearranging his heart anatomy and then closing his chest. Within days Zavin was strong enough to nurse.
After the surgery, Zavin spent several weeks at UMC recuperating, which included many nights in the pediatric intensive care unit. He needed a ventilator, blood transfusions, dialysis and medication to regulate his heart. Catheters and tubes ran in and out of his little body. It was also the first time that UMC's pediatric ICU team had been in charge of caring for an infant who went through an arterial switch.
Zavin is now home with his family, and reportedly functioning like a normal baby.
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