At age 7, Anthony began to show signs of needing heart repair again. This time, though, the remedy was much less invasive.
Children’s had just become one of the first pediatric hospitals in the country and the first in Texas to be approved to implant the Melody Valve® in a child. What made the Melody Valve special is that Alan Nugent, M.D., director of cardiac catheterization at Children’s, could place it in Anthony’s heart by threading it through a vein in his leg without making major incisions.
“A small bruise and a Band-Aid on the leg; that’s it,” Dr. Nugent says. Because of the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, Anthony was able to return home in five days and be back in school the following week.
The Melody Valve is a pulmonary valve made from the vein of a cow. The replacement heart valve is threaded up a vein in the leg and causes blood to flow from the right ventricle to the lungs, and ultimately to the rest of the body. Children’s Medical Center was the first pediatric hospital in Texas to implant the Melody Valve in a child.
Hoping for a new beat
In the years since the innovative Melody Valve surgery, Anthony has been able to attend school regularly and live a mostly normal life, despite battling some dangerous heart infections.
Yet, it became apparent last summer that the only way for Anthony to have long-term health was to receive a new heart, and he was officially placed on the heart transplant waiting list in November.
Children’s is among the 10 most active pediatric heart transplant centers in the nation. So, the same place that has cared for Anthony since the early stages of his rhythm is one of the best places to care for him throughout the transplant process, too.
Anthony will continue to live at home and attend school with few restrictions in the meantime. He’ll keep this rhythm until the heart experts at Children’s help him establish a new one – one that can be sustained.
“I’m scared, and I think it would be unusual for any parent not to be,” Anthony’s mom Kathleen says. “But I feel confidence knowing that we’re being cared for at Children’s. We wouldn’t have made it this far without them. We feel like this hospital is heaven-sent.”