A nine-month-old boy is defying the odds after being born with half of a heart and suffering cardiac arrest three times within his first weeks of life, The Birmingham Mail reported.
Samuel Stables was diagnosed with a hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), a rare birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart and prevents the left side of the heart from developing correctly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Angie Stables, Samuel’s mother, said doctors detected something was amiss during her 20-week scan at Coventry Hospital near their home in Warwickshire, England.
“I was told my body was keeping Samuel alive inside me,” Angie told Birmingham Mail.
Samuel was born at 39 weeks on December 8, at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and transferred to a neonatal unit.
“We were told that once he was born, he would need to have special drugs to keep him alive and then a succession of operations,” she said. Treatment usually requires three surgeries over the span of four years.
At less than two weeks old, Samuel suffered his first cardiac arrest while undergoing a corrective heart surgery on December 15.
“After the operation the medics left his chest open, but on December 18 they decided to close his breast bone,” she said.
For a second time, Samuel’s heart stopped and doctors worked for 11 minutes before it began beating again, but less than two hours later his heart stopped again.
“He didn’t breathe for 28 minutes and there were concerns about brain damage after he was resuscitated. Eventually he was given the all clear,” Angie said.
Samuel has undergone a second surgery, which doctors say went well.
“We are so pleased that Samuel is now making such a good recovery from his two operations,” Dr. Tim Jones, a cardiac surgeon at Birmingham Children’s Hospital told the news website. “It is great to see him growing and looking so happy,” he said.
“To look at him now, you would think nothing was wrong with him,” Angie said, adding that a heart transplant may be needed when he’s older.