Six-month-old Zhavia Hadaway has a bright future after life-saving surgery Tuesday at Long Beach Medical Center, which corrected a heart defect she was born with.
On the Hadaway family’s home island, Barbados, there is no pediatric surgeon capable of performing the operation. But thanks to a new partnership between the World Pediatric Project and the Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, Zhavia and her mother, Shenica, were airlifted to Southern California for the procedure.
“I’m happy,” Shenica said after the operation, adding that she was still nervous to see her daughter hooked up to machines with tubes and wires. “But I feel a lot better.”
Zhavia was born with a condition known as tetralogy of Fallot, which causes low oxygen blood to flow from the heart to the rest of the body. The disorder is caused by a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart, as well as several other organ defects.
Symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot include bluish skin color, feeding problems, inability to gain weight, developmental delays, and episodes of fainting. The severity of the disease varies from patient to patient, and Zhavia’s case was moderate to severe, according to Dr. Saar Danon, medical director of pediatric cardiology and congenital heart catheterization at Miller Children’s.
“She would probably be fine for a few more months and eventually turn more and more blue,” Danon said before the operation. “And then she probably wouldn’t be able to survive until the end of childhood.”
The goal of the surgery was to fill the approximately 7-millimeter hole between the two chambers of the heart using tissue from the wall of the heart. Surgeons Dr Shaun Setty and Luke Wiggins opened Zhavia’s chest cavity, exposing the tissue, known as the pericardium. By performing a procedure known as a pericardiectomy, surgeons removed some of the tissue, which was processed and used to close the hole.
During the operation, surgeons also cut off a valve that was too small to allow blood to flow freely. This is a temporary fix, and Zhavia will need to have a valve placed in 10 or 15 years, Setty explained.
“Everything went very well, exactly as we expected,” said surgeon Dr Shaun Setty after the operation. “We had no problem during the affair. The ultrasound looks really good.
After being discharged from the hospital in the next few days, Setty said Zhavia will return in the next few weeks for checkups, including x-rays and ultrasounds.
Since arriving in Long Beach, the Hadaways have stayed at Ronald McDonald House, with all meals and transportation donated or provided by the World Pediatric Project. Medical care, including time for doctors and nurses, was also free.
The Global Pediatric Project has helped more than 15,000 people since its founding in 2002. Zhavia was the first surgery under the new partnership, which brings patients from less developed countries directly to doctors for treatment, as opposed to doctors traveling to. abroad.
Setty, who has been on more than a dozen mission trips providing medical care to underserved communities around the world, said he looked forward to the continued partnership. He will perform as many pro bono surgeries as the World Pediatric Project wants, he said.
Shenica, meanwhile, is ready to come back to life on the island after the gift her family received.
“I’m really grateful,” Shenica said. “After the next few days and weeks it’s good to get back to normal. “