Can’t keep a good man down (even if he’s a 3-year-old who’s undergone 3 surgeries)

The quality of life for most adults after undergoing three surgeries in less than three years is greatly impacted. However, a nearly 3-year-old boy from Providence, R.I., is thriving in spite of receiving three very complex heart surgeries to correct for his hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS).

“Daniel has fared incredibly well throughout his multiple procedures—better than most undergoing such complex operations—which shows his strength and tenacity,” says Christopher Baird, MD, director of the Congenital Heart Valve Program at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This is truly impressive because he has been struggling with a heart defect since birth. In fact, he was diagnosed with HLHS at 36 hours of life in a newborn nursery in Providence. Baird performed Daniel’s first open heart surgery at Boston Children’s when he was 4 days old. This procedure, the Sano modification of the Norwood procedure, involves the placement of a conduit between the pulmonary artery and the right ventricle, which serves to make the right ventricle the main pumping chamber for blood flow to the body.

As an energetic, talkative toddler, Daniel Lareau is already mastering the skills of multitasking:

“While HLHS cases are never ‘routine’—because we need to tailor unique treatments to the individual patients—smooth recoveries are welcomed,” says Baird. “We’ve witnessed Daniel continually improve as a result of his procedures throughout the past three years.”

As physician parents, orthopedic surgeon Craig Lareau, MD, and pediatrician Thirza Lareau, MD, acknowledge that they probably had more questions than the average. “The specialists at Boston Children’s were incredibly patient with us, even though we may have bombarded them with our questions and extensive research,” says Craig. “Due to their explanations and help, we felt incredibly prepared every step of the way.”

Even though the second procedure is typically performed on HLHS patients between 4 and 6 months old, Baird was able to perform the Glenn open heart surgery on Daniel at 3 months. This operation guides blood flow from the baby’s upper body straight into the lungs by making a connection between the vein carrying blood back to the heart from the head and arms and the pulmonary artery.

Daniel was able to wait for another 17 months before his final procedure when 2 years old. Dr. Baird performed the Fontan operation, which guides the blood flow coming back from the lower body into the lungs without the help of a second pumping chamber.

Since the Fontan operation, Thirza happily reports that Daniel has been “developing wonderfully and is even advanced in some areas such as speech, fine motor and reasoning skills.” He also is above average for both height and weight for his age, but most importantly, he is playful, active and lovable, according to his mom.

“These days, we don’t even think about his heart too much, because we’re too busy chasing after him,” says Craig. “For our son’s health, we are extremely grateful to the medical team at Boston Children’s, including Dr. Baird, Dr. Audrey Marshall, the cardiac anesthesia team, and Pat O’Brien and the rest of the nursing staff of 8 South and 8 East.”