Baby Undergoes Surgery In Utero

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A baby in California is alive and well after undergoing a rare procedure that was performed before he was even born.

Just looking at Grayson Davila, you wouldn't know what he's been through -- until you see the scars on his chest.

Just 22 weeks into his mother Samantha's pregnancy, doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles discovered he had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition that leaves the left side of the heart underdeveloped.

"You can imagine, without half your heart it's hard to survive, right?" said Marco Davila, Grayson's dad.

Babies in the womb should also have a small hole in the heart to help blood flow, but Grayson's was closing up.

"You sort of feel like everything's stacked against you," said Samantha Davila.

So the Davilas turned to a rare procedure: A "fetal cardiac intervention."

Doctors inserted a long, thin needle into Samantha's womb, then into the fetus, putting a small stent into Grayson's tiny heart to allow blood to flow back to the right side of his heart.

The procedure worked, strengthening Grayson's lungs so surgeons could perform emergency open heart surgery 10 weeks later when he was born.
They converted his one heart chamber to do the job of two.

"Normally that chamber, the right ventricle, pumps blood to the lungs," said Dr. Vaughn Starnes, chief executive of Heart Institute at Children's Hospital Los Angeles." Now we're asking it to pump blood to the entire body."

"He was born on the 19th of November and we got to hold him on the 27th," said Samantha Davila." But it was worth it! It was worth the wait!"

Grayson's 3-month-old heart is now functioning as expected. He still faces two more procedures, but doctors say he should live a normal,  healthy life. He will undergo his second surgery when he's six months old and a final surgery when he's three.

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