When their unborn son Silas was diagnosed with congenital heart disease at 22 weeks gestation, Montana and Michael Green knew he faced a long road. Though their primary concern was Silas’ health they also worried their son might face developmental delays, a common side effect following infant heart surgery.
Silas was diagnosed with double-outlet right ventricle (DORV) , a complicated abnormality in which the pulmonary artery and the aorta — the heart’s two great arteries — both arise from the right ventricle. This disrupts the flow of oxygenated blood throughout the body. DORV is often associated with other cardiac defects, such as a ventricular septal defect (a hole in the heart) or pulmonary vein stenosis (a narrowing or blockage of the passageway to the lungs).
Knowing Silas would need the most advanced cardiac care, Montana and Michael decided to travel from Cranston, Rhode Island, to deliver him at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. After birth, he was immediately transferred to the Heart Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he spent the first six months of his life. During that time, he had three heart surgeries and multiple cardiac catheterizations to correct his various anatomical issues and complications, which included complete atrioventricular canal defect and double outlet right ventricle. Today, at 6 months, Silas’ heart is functioning well, and his cardiac and developmental prognoses are promising.
A clinical trial to outline the benefits of using 3-D printed hearts for surgery was recently funded by the nonprofit organization Matthew’s Hearts of Hope. Read more about this on our sister blog, Vector.
Jason Ayres, a family doctor in Alabama, was speechless as he held his adopted son’s heart in his hands — well, a replica of his son’s heart, an exact replica, 3-D printed before the three-year-old boy had lifesaving open-heart surgery.
Patrick Ayres was one of the Boston Children’s Hospital’s first beneficiaries of 3-D printing, which in 2015 helped open a new frontier in pediatric cardiac surgery.
Patrick was born with numerous cardiac problems; in addition to double outlet right ventricle (DORV) and a complete atrioventricular canal defect, his heart lay backwards in his chest. DORV is a complex congenital defect in which the blood pumped from the heart to the body lacks adequate oxygen. Complete atrioventricular canal defect is a combination of issues related to holes in the heart and/or ineffective heart valves.
“There were a lot of things wrong with his heart,” says Jason. “We knew early on that he’d need complex surgery to survive.”