Doctors repair baby’s “far from normal” heart

Doctors repair baby’s “far from normal” heart

Just after opening his eyes to the world, little Christos Galanis showed he is a fighter. All along the way, his mother, Denise, had a normal pregnancy. There had been two normal pregnancies with her first two children. That’s why what happened to Christos came as such a surprise.

“My husband, Nick, says it was something out of the television show Grey’s Anatomy,” says Denise. “They had taken my baby to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Advocate Children’s Hospital, after a nurse noticed that his nails were turning blue. Nick says there were doctors everywhere hovering over the baby and helping to diagnose what was going wrong.”

Just having had a C-section, Denise was on the Mother Baby Unit at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, waiting for word. She remembers the moment Dr. Michael Cappello, a neonatologist, entered her room with two pictures, one showing a normal heart and one showing Christos’ heart.

“The main arteries in Christos’ heart were reversed; the positions of the pulmonary artery and the aorta were switched,” says Dr. Cappello. “It meant that there was a shortage of oxygen in the blood flowing through his heart. It’s a very serious and rare congenital heart defect. We are lucky to have had the right team in place to catch it and repair it quickly.”

Called transposition of the great arteries, the condition can be diagnosed during pregnancy or right after birth. It is unknown what causes the defect, but caught quickly, as was the case with Christos, the arteries can be surgically placed back in the right position.

Christos is home and making great progress.

“I always tell Dr. Cappello that he saved my baby’s life,” says Denise. “I feel so lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.  This could have gone so very differently someplace else.”

“Who knows, one day we may see Christos among the Olympic athletes or President of the United States,” says Dr. Cappello.  “While it is scary for parents to face this issue at birth, babies have gone on to lead very normal lives after surgery.”

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About the Author

Evonne Woloshyn
Evonne Woloshyn

Evonne Woloshyn, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs at Advocate Children's Hospital. Evonne began her career as an anchor and reporter in broadcast news. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in health care marketing in both Ohio and Illinois. Evonne loves to travel, spend time with family and is an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan!