Complex heart surgery at Primary Children’s is saving lives

Feb 16, 2023, 5:30 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2023, 6:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — February is Heart Health Month, and a young Idaho boy is thriving because of a heart procedure gaining traction at Intermountain’s Primary Children’s Hospital.

The Ross procedure is a complex surgery that treats a diseased aortic valve by replacing the valve with the patient’s pulmonary valve and then replacing that pulmonary valve with a donated human heart valve.

“The Ross procedure is one of several different types of congenital heart disease treatments that we really wanted to champion,” said Dr. Adil Husain, chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery for University of Utah Health and co-director of the Heart Center at Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.

Primary Children’s has become a high-volume Ross Procedure Center, treating 60 kids in the last two years.

Husain said patients who have this procedure shouldn’t need another intervention within the next 15-20 years, and only 15% of those will need a replacement.

He added that this surgery is becoming increasingly popular across hospitals in the country.

“They’re embracing it as a procedure that likely allows patients to live a normal life span after replacement, whereas prior replacements did not put them on the same trajectory,” he said.

Five-year-old Creedon and his family are so thankful for Primary Children’s and the Ross procedure.

At just 2 days old, Creedon was flown from Twin Falls, Idaho, to Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City because his aortic valve was too small.

Doctors used a balloon to open up the valve without open heart surgery.

His mom, Callie McCall, said everything seemed fine until 2020, when the 3-year-old was diagnosed with cancer, stage 4 neuroblastoma.

“I did not think I would have a sick kid ever, and he had everything,” she said.

Doctors found fluid near his heart while he was being treated for his cancer.

“During those other medical issues, it became clear to us that his aortic valve had deteriorated,” Husain said.

That’s when he recommended the Ross procedure for Creedon.

Creedon had the Ross procedure last March, at about the same time he went into remission for his cancer.

Now he is a healthy, happy kid and gaining weight, catching up to his twin brother Kixston.

“He’s a normal kid again,” McCall said. “I’m grateful, beyond grateful that he is where he is now, it was really scary.”

Husain recommends regular exercise and healthy foods to keep a child’s heart healthy.

He added if you have any heart concerns, visit your doctor right away.

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Complex heart surgery at Primary Children’s is saving lives