Saving Lorenzo

Health Watch

Doctors are saving the tiniest of babies even before birth. An O.R. full of the top surgeons delicately worked on a baby’s heart that was the size of a grape to save his life.

If only this little guy knew the road he’s already traveled.

“They didn’t think he was going to make it to term,” said Anthony Catanese.

“They said that there was a problem with the heart,” said Heather Catanese.

An ultrasound at 24 weeks revealed one of Lorenzo’s aortic valves wasn’t working. It could develop into hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“Some people call it half a heart syndrome because the left side is missing,” said Jim Strainic, MD, Pediatric Cardiologist, UH Rainbow, Cleveland.

If left untreated, babies live just a few days.

UH Rainbow Pediatric Cardiologist, Jim Strainic, offered a new procedure, fetal intervention, to try and open the valve allowing Lorenzo’s heart to grow normally.

“We did it as a chance to meet our son,” said Anthony Catanese.

Even doctors took part in the procedure that lasted 20 minutes.

“The needle goes through mom’s skin, through the uterus and, through the baby’s chest and into the heart,” said Doctor

So precise a procedure it takes one doctor to put the needle in, another to place the balloon, smaller than a penny, in the aortic valve, another to expand the balloon.

“Even up until the birth, nobody truly knew how he was going to do after he was born,” said Heather Catanese.

Four days after birth, Lorenzo left the hospital with his mom and dad. Fast forward two years, the family is back at the hospital in Cleveland to thank the team that saved Lorenzo’s life and to donate ten thousand dollars to help those whose unborn babies need a lifesaving procedure.

“I mean they didn’t just save his life, they saved his quality of life,” said Heather Catanese.

Lorenzo still has an abnormal aortic valve. He’ll have checkups every 6 months for the rest of his life and probably in his teens or 20’s he will need the valve replaced.

He’s not on any medications and doctors say he should be able to live a very normal, healthy life.

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