Hypoplastic left heart syndrome. That was a term Catherine Campbell had never heard before her son, Idris “Hero,” was born on March 15, 2015. “He was born a healthy, 8lb, 15 oz., baby boy- scoring high on the apgar test, no discoloration- just a normal baby,” says Catherine.
But just 24 hours later, Hero failed his pulse oximetry test (a test to measure to monitor a person’s oxygen saturation). He was tested again and his pulse ox was very low. Hero was immediately put on oxygen and transported to Lurie Children’s Regenstein Cardiac Care Unit.
During an echocardiogram, Hero was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a heart defect where the left side of the heart — including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve — is underdeveloped. This heart defect is usually fatal within the first days or months of life without treatment. It isn’t correctable, but some babies can be treated with a series of operations or with a heart transplant.
“I had never heard of this condition before. I was just in shock. I was trying to process everything. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole. My emotions were at a standstill until one day I went home and just broke down,” says Catherine. “But with a lot of prayer, support and encouragement from hospital staff, family and friends, especially the Leak family, I remained faithful.”
At just one week old, Hero underwent his first open-heart surgery- the Norwood procedure, which helps the right ventricle pump blood to the body- performed by heart surgeons Carl L. Backer, MD, and Osama M. Eltayeb, MD. The team also inserted a pacemaker. When Hero was four months old, he underwent his second of three surgeries. His third surgery will happen in the next few years. For now though, Catherine says, “He’s in a good place. We are so grateful to his cardiologist Dr. Joseph Camarda and the rest of the Lurie Children’s heart team. Hero has exceeded all expectations. He was nicknamed ‘Hero’ by his father before he was even born but it sure does fit him to a ‘T.’”
Lurie Children’s is ranked 11th in the nation for child cardiology and heart surgery by U.S.News & World Report.
Our Heart Center offers many specialized programs, from fetal cardiology to adult congenital heart disease. We are nationally and internationally renowned for the diagnosis and treatment of irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmia) and for helping pioneer the treatment of pediatric congenital heart disease through procedures like the Fontan conversion.