29 Weeker Heart Surgery

Amazing Baby Defies Odds After Being Born With Only Half A Heart

When Zephan Bjorkman arrived at 29 weeks gestation, doctors didn’t believe that he would survive.

At birth he was found to have a “double inlet left ventricle with malposed great vessels,” which means that his right ventricle, one of the heart’s two pumping chambers, never developed, leaving the left ventricle to work for both.

In a normal heart, the left ventricle pumps oxygen-rich blood through the body, and the right ventricle pumps the oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs. Zephan’s left ventricle is mixing the oxygen-rich and oxygen-depleted blood and pumping it to the body and the lungs.

One in 10,000 babies is born with some variation of this heart defect, one of the rarest.

“This wouldn’t make the top 10 or even the top 20 of congenital heart defects,” said Dr. Richard Ohye, a pediatric cardiac surgeon at Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Despite all of his issues, Zephan has received many miracles. The first was when he survived his birth.

The second was when his is pulmonary artery developed a partial blockage, a condition called pulmonary stenosis, reducing blood flow to the lungs. For a normal heart, would be a serious problem, but for Zephan, it was a blessing. It gave him a reprieve, allowing him more time to grow before undergoing heart surgery.

On June 17, he is scheduled to undergo the first operation. A second will follow when he is 18 to 24 months old.

If all goes according to plan, the surgeons at Mott will reroute the blood flow by rearranging the blood vessels. The left ventricle will pump oxygen-rich blood to his body, and the oxygen-depleted blood will bypass the heart, flowing directly to the lungs.

At Mott, the survival rate for the first surgery is about 90 percent, Ohye said, and 98 percent for the second. His doctors expect Zephan will be able to lead a quality life, although it will be defined by his defective heart. As for his long-term prognosis, the doctors just do not know, because this type of surgery is relatively new.

I can’t imagine how these parents feel, but I wish them the very best. This is the kind of story that should make parents of a healthy baby feel blessed.

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About the author

Lisa Arneill

Mom of 2 boys and founder of GrowingYourBaby.com and World Traveled Family. When I'm not running around after my boys, I'm looking for our next vacation spot!

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