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Orange County Digest

Orange : Boy With Heart Defect Is Beating Long Odds

April 27, 1985|JULIE STUTTS

Doctors at Childrens Hospital of Orange County thought little Danny Ruiz might not live long enough to celebrate his first birthday. Ruiz, of Rosemead, was born with a congenital heart problem and had open heart surgery twice--at 6 and 11 months. But on April 18, he celebrated his first birthday, and on Friday he was able to go home with proud parents Jesse and Guadalupe Ruiz.

"He is an extremely strong-willed child," Danny's primary nurse, Mary Snider, said. "He had to be to survive everything he went through."

The baby's heart problem was characterized by the absence of one of two pulmonary valves, essential for regulating blood flow, and enlarged pulmonary arteries. When the baby was first brought to CHOC at 6 months, he was experiencing heart failure. The cardiology team implanted an artificial pulmonary valve in his heart. Afterward, he had to be put on a ventilator to help him breathe, Snider said.

"We tried to wean him from the ventilator but because his arteries were so big the blood flow to his lungs was too much," she said.

So a second open-heart surgery was performed. This time surgeons made the pulmonary arteries smaller to normalize blood flow.

In the course of his hospitalization, Danny overcame some incredible odds.

A Mayo Clinic study found the national survival rate for children under a year old undergoing such surgery to be almost zero.

The second time around, Danny experienced no complications. The nurses were able to wean him from the ventilator after two weeks. Soon after, he was taken off the machine completely. "Today he's a normal little boy," Snider said. "Developmentally he's not quite up to where he should be, but he's extremely bright and he'll catch up in no time."

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