Stories about: Dr. Pedro del Nido

A first birthday made possible by cardiac tumor surgery

Oliver, who had a cardiac tumor, plays in the snow.Today is Oliver Cameron’s first birthday and he and his parents have a lot to celebrate. After a year of uncertainty, they will be enjoying a quiet dinner with family at their home in Wantage, a town in Oxfordshire, England.

“Having him home and healthy is the best present ever,” says his mom, Lydia.

She and her husband, Tim, are looking forward to some quiet time alone with Oliver and their family after spending much of the last year fighting for his life.

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Courtney’s story: Piecing together a genetic puzzle

Courtney, who has Loeys-Dietz syndrome poses after her college graduation. Courtney Whitmore was born 22 years ago with a cleft palate, two clubbed feet and fists that were so tightly clenched they couldn’t be pulled apart. Since Courtney was an otherwise happy and healthy baby, neither her parents nor her doctor saw cause to be concerned about these seemingly unrelated conditions. What they didn’t realize was that these were the first clues to a genetic puzzle that would take ten years to unravel.

The next clue came at age 3.

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Hope for Kevin’s heart: Five-year-old shines after novel treatment for Ebstein’s anomaly

Kevin, who was born with Ebstein's anomaly, practices his dance moves.As the lights dimmed and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” blasted from loudspeakers, Kevin Nolan III took to the stage for his very first dance recital. Sporting striped pants, a turquoise bow tie and a black top hat, Kevin joined his class in performing two hip-hop jazz routines to a packed house. Kevin’s mood was perfectly in step with the song’s lyrics.

“He had so much fun,” says Kevin’s mom, Laura. “He said he can’t wait to get on stage again.”

While a first dance recital is a big deal for any 5-year-old, it’s especially poignant for Kevin, who was diagnosed prenatally with Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare heart condition that causes leakage of the tricuspid valve and backup of blood flow into the heart. Kevin also had pulmonary valve regurgitation, which was stealing blood flow away from his essential organs. His condition was so severe that when it was first discovered during a prenatal ultrasound, doctors at a hospital in Boston said he might not survive.

“We met with a heart specialist who told us we should just say goodbye,” says Kevin’s dad, Kevin Jr. “He said nothing could be done.”

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A biventricular repair for Jayce’s one-of-a-kind heart

Jayce, born with heterotaxy syndrome, crawls through a tube at the playground.Amanda Mattioli was working in Afghanistan as a government contractor and had just completed a whirlwind round of travel to three separate continents when she learned she was pregnant.

The helicopter unit that took her back to the main base, so she could return home for her pregnancy, gave her a unit sticker to commemorate her baby’s first helicopter ride. Little did she know it would also mark the beginning of a much longer journey for her and her son, William “Jayce” James.

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