Doctors mend toddlers hole in heart with innovative surgery

An Ulster County toddler now has a mended heart thanks to the medical team at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.
On Tuesday, Nick and Kayleigh Bozzo’s 2-year-old daughter Aria reunited with her live-saving doctors.
Aria was born with a congenital heart defect commonly called a hole in the heart. While some close on their own, that was not the case for Aria.
When she turned 2-year-old last February, doctors delivered the news that surgery needed to be considered to close the hole.
"When you hear heart surgery…you go to the worst case scenario,” said Nick Bozzo.
That fear of surgery was coupled with concern over the lifelong scar heart surgery requires. Luckily, Dr. Sameh Said, specializes in an approach that does not leave a scar down the middle of the chest.
"The traditional approach for the majority of places to approach the heart through the right side is basically an incision through the right side in the armpit that is more cosmetic,” said Dr. Said, Chief of Pediatric and Adult Congenital Cardiac Surgery at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Said also has another, less medical specialization that involves his patients favorite stuffed animal.
"This is her Foxy,” said Nick Bozzo as he pointed to a stuffed animal. “She goes nowhere without Foxy and Foxy had the same procedure done as her."
Dr. Said demonstrated the procedure Aria underwent on Foxy, even hooked the stuffed animal up to fake IVs.
Nick Bozza said it helped calm the toddlers nerves through the recovery process.
Months later, Aria is fully healed and has a small scar on her side – a sign that a broken heart can be mended with love and care.