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A mended heart

A routine 18 week pregnancy ultrasound that was meant to show the baby’s sex turned into the start of a terrifying journey when Daniel’s parents learned that he had multiple heart defects. His parents were referred to Duke Children’s, and numerous follow-up appointments were held to prepare Daniel’s parents and their care team for Daniel’s birth. Though terrified for their son’s life, Daniel’s parents knew that they were in good hands in the Duke Children’s Pediatric Cardiology Intensive Care Unit.

When Daniel was born at Duke, over 20 caretakers anxiously awaited his arrival. Two of his heart defects were so severe that he needed surgery immediately, and he had his first surgery at six days old—one of the most serious heart surgeries possible, even more difficult than a heart transplant. Daniel was in the operating room for over 14 hours while physicians worked on his walnut-sized infant heart. The surgery was a success, but Daniel still faced an uphill climb: kidney failure, and a stroke which caused fluid to collect in his brain. Daniel also had a second open heart surgery to correct additional issues.

Daniel’s condition is chronic, and he still faces daily complications because of his congenital heart disease, the pressure in his brain, and lingering gastrointestinal issues. But despite these challenges, Daniel is a vibrant boy who loves to wrestle and play with monster trucks. In the past year he has been discharged from physical therapy for meeting all of his milestones, and he even began to play soccer. Thanks to Duke Children’s and supporters like you, Daniel has the opportunity to reach his full potential!