Minimally invasive heart surgery leaves less scaring, faster recovery

Traditional heart surgery requires cutting through bone and muscle down the center of ones chest, but Vanessa Cruz found an alternative at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Westchester County.

Nadia Galindo

Mar 15, 2023, 9:44 PM

Updated 436 days ago

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Before Keilany was born, her mother knew she would face some challenges.
"She was diagnosed with trisomy 21 which is Down syndrome," said Vanessa Cruz, of Newburgh.
Cruz said after her daughter was born, the real challenge became clear.
Keilany had a heart defect, a hole in her heart.
Cruz learned it would require surgery to correct.
"A heart surgery, you think of a big incision in the middle of the chest," she said. "My husband agreed, we were very scared thinking of it."
Traditional heart surgery requires cutting through bone and muscle down the center of ones chest, but Cruz found an alternative at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Westchester County.
"We approach the heart through the right side and through an auxiliary incision, an incision under the armpits," said Dr. Sameh Said, section chief of Pediatric Congenital Cardiac Surgery at Maria Fareri Children's Hospital.
Dr. Said is one of only a few pediatric congenital cardiac surgeons in the country to offer this minimally invasive surgery.
In February, Keilany underwent surgery, and a month later her scar looks more like a scratch.
She required little to no pain medication after the surgery.
"You would not know that this little one just had a surgery," said Cruz.
Another benefit is that the surgery drastically reduces recovery time.
"We have done this approach in teenagers who play competitive sports and they will go back to full activity in a week or two after surgery," said Dr. Said.
Keilany united with the doctors that repaired her broken heart a month after the surgery, a happy reunion knowing the opportunities this little girl now has.
"I just want her to have a normal life like the rest of my kids, be in gymnastics like my 10 year old, be a dancer," said Cruz. "Normal, just have a normal life."


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