How research saved this little boy's life

17 June 2015

Theodore was diagnosed in the womb during a routine ultrasound with a very serious condition, hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The left side of his heart did not develop.

If not for the advances in medical research over the last twenty years, Theodore would have died. Knowing his condition in advance meant that his delivery was planned for nearby Westmead Hospital and he was  rushed to The Children's Hospital at Westmead straight after birth. The next day he had major surgery to enable the right part of his heart to do some of the work of the left. This difficult procedure is usually associated with with very poor outcomes and a high mortality rate.

A research program run at The Heart Centre for Children at The Children's Hospital at Westmead is achieving very successful outcomes.

Theodore had a second operation at three months of age and will have another when he is three or four. He will have a 70% chance of living to be five years old.

"He will have to wait for advances in medical research," said his mother, Carolyn. "The hardest thing is the uncertainty and not knowing how long his single ventricle heart will last."

Researchers aim to achieve a better understanding of how to treat severe congenital heart disease. Both parents have provided skin biopsies to be used in a collaborative research project between Kids Research Institute and the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Centre. The study is using stem cells grown from bipsies taken from patients and their parents to define the developmental errors that may have caused HPLH and, in future, dvelop a therapy for children like Theodore.


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