In a heartwarming tale of courage and medical breakthroughs, Baby Elias Robinson-Rodriguez has emerged as a symbol of hope and inspiration at Dell Children’s Medical Center. His remarkable journey highlights the transformative power of cutting-edge medical care and unwavering parental love.
Elias’s story began when an ultrasound at 23 weeks discovered a narrowing pulmonary artery, a hole in the heart, and a diagnosis of transposition of the great arteries, a complex heart condition where the pulmonary artery and the aorta are switched. Elias’s parents, Abigail and Christian, faced an uncertain path ahead. However, their determination to provide the best possible care for their son led them to Dell Children’s, renowned for its expertise in pediatric cardiac care.
Born on July 14, 2022, Elias would spend 68 days in the Dell Children’s neonatal intensive care unit. At just one month old, Elias underwent his first open-heart surgery led by Dr. Carlos Mery, Associate Chief, Pediatric and Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery at Dell Children’s. It was a delicate procedure to correct his misaligned arteries and repair the hole in his heart. Despite the challenges, Elias displayed a steadfast spirit, captivating the hearts of the medical team and giving his family hope.
Just six months later, Elias faced yet another hurdle, undergoing a second open-heart surgery to improve the function of his aortic valve. It became clear that a traditional approach would mean multiple heart surgeries as Elias continued to grow.
Amidst these trials, a groundbreaking opportunity arose – a partial heart transplant. This innovative procedure, a rarity even in the world of pediatric medicine, had only been performed on six children globally, and never before in Texas. It offered Elias a chance to avoid multiple open-heart surgeries in the future.
Led by Dr. Carlos Mery, and supported by the nationally ranked team at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s, they embarked on a journey to rewrite the possibilities for Elias. In an intricate, 11-hour procedure, a live aortic valve from a donor heart was transplanted into Elias, with the hope that it would grow alongside him, sparing him from further surgeries. His family stayed at the hospital throughout the surgery, and although they were nervous, they knew he was in the hands of the best team.
The groundbreaking surgery, which took place in June, was a resounding success. Elias’s recovery was swift, and he celebrated his first birthday at home just weeks after the transformative procedure. Elias continues to have regular checkups, but his medical team is very optimistic about his future and hopes this could revolutionize care for other children.
Elias’s story is a testament to the power of hope, resilience, and medical innovation. His story has been featured on Good Morning America, and an in-depth account of the family’s journey was published in the Austin-American Statesman.
Just a few years ago, this kind of historic moment for Dell Children’s and the entire state of Texas would not have been possible. Our community’s generosity and belief in Dell Children’s brought some of the world’s best cardiovascular surgeons to Austin. Over the years, philanthropy has supported their work – ensuring that not only can we care for all children in Central Texas, we can provide historic, ground-breaking care that will benefit children around the world.