Imagine arteries less than a millimeter in thickness—as thin as a piece of hair.
Then imagine surgeons operating on these tiny arteries, delicately maneuvering around a heart smaller than a walnut.
This is the scenario the surgical team at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease faced when operating on baby Le’Lani Bryant.
Le’Lani was born 12 weeks early, a mere 1 pound, 3 ounces. Her mother, Jasmine, suffered from a life-threatening case of preeclampsia that required her to deliver early. On top of this terrifying news, baby Le’Lani had been diagnosed with a rare congenital heart defect while in utero. Upon entering this world, baby Le’Lani would need life-saving surgery to ensure the arteries around her heart were pumping blood properly. While the expert team at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, headed by Chief, Dr. Charles D. Fraser, Jr., had years of experience performing this exact procedure, this beautiful baby girl was a unique case. She was small. Very small. Dr. Fraser had operated on a baby this small only once in his career, and there are few known cases of such operations taking place on a child so small.
After the NICU team at Dell Children’s helped Le’Lani through the crucial first week of her life, her surgery got the go-ahead. Her prognosis was dire—a 50/50 chance of survival. She was in the best hands she could be in, but the reality was Le’Lani’s situation was very complicated. Not only was she tiny, but her misplaced arteries were in a very precarious position. But Dr. Fraser and team knew if the surgery didn’t happen, the likelihood that Le’Lani would survive was slim.
Her surgery was long and challenging for her care team, and absolutely grueling for Jasmine and the baby’s father, Tometheus. When Le’Lani pulled through, her family cried tears of joy. Their little miracle was a fighter. She is growing stronger each day and her team expects her to go home on her original due date in January of 2023. Though she has a slight murmur and she might require additional surgeries as she grows, her prognosis is very good.
Not long ago it would have been unthinkable for a baby like Le’Lani to receive this life-saving surgery and care right in Central Texas. Very few heart centers in the United States are capable of caring for babies like Le’Lani, due to her size and medical complexity. But today babies with complex and unique heart needs, and their families, can rely on the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s for first-class neonatal heart care.