Baby Born With Half A Heart Has So Much Love To Give

little one La’Zariyah Angela Gibson was born on August 1st of this year and came out smiling–not knowing she would be in for the fight of her life. La’Zariyah was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). In other words, she was born with a half of a heart.

Many of you ask, how is that possible?

Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. As the baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly.

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If your baby is born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the left side of the heart can’t effectively pump blood to the body, so the right side of the heart must pump blood both to the lungs and to the rest of the body. In essence, you’ve got half an organ doing twice the work it was made for.

little one2In the infant and child with a normal heart:
Oxygen-poor (blue) blood returns to the right atrium from the body, enters the right ventricle and is pumped through the pulmonary artery into the lungs to receive oxygen. The oxygen-rich (red) blood returns to the left atrium from the lungs, passes into the left ventricle and is pumped out to the body through the aorta.

But In A Child With HLHS:

  • Most of the structures on the left side of the heart are too small and underdeveloped (hypoplastic) to provide enough red blood flow for the body’s needs.
  • The small left ventricle, which needs to be large enough and strong enough to pump blood out to the body, simply can’t function effectively.
  • Other left heart structures can also be underdeveloped in varying degrees—including the mitral valve, the aortic valve and the aorta itself.

Medication to prevent closure of the connection (ductus arteriosus) between the right and left sides, followed by either surgery or a heart transplant, is necessary to treat hypoplastic left heart syndrome. With advances in care, the outlook for babies born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome is better now than in the past. But for La’Zariyah, it’s been hard.

At only four days old La’Zariyah had the first of three open heart surgeries. The surgery went well but…