Children's Hospital Performs Groundbreaking Heart Surgery On Valley Teens

Doctors at Children's Hospital this week performed a first-of-its-kind heart procedure in the Central Valley.

The procedure replaces a heart valve without actually cracking the patient's chest open. Instead of open heart surgery, the valve was threaded on a catheter and snaked up to the heart from a blood vessel in the leg.

"Many patients are born with congenital heart disease -- types of heart disease where they don't have a well formed pulmonary artery," said Paolo Aquino, a pediatric cardiologist with Children's Hospital.

Patients with the valve malformation often experience dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain and other complications, doctors say.

At one point in time, patients may have had a conduit placed to improve the flow.

"Those conduits placed when they were younger became narrowed over time and in order for us to take care of that narrowing we needed to make those conduits bigger," Aquino said.

That's what happened with 13-year-old Duh-Von.

But now, thanks to Aquino and the staff at Children's Hospital, Duh-Von received the heart procedure that he needed but with a lot less pain.

During surgery, doctors rarely have to look at the patient. Instead, they rely on these six monitors here that tell you everything from the patient's vitals to their EKG.

Aquino says the best part about the surgery is that it only lasts a few hours. And he says that the recovery time for patients is just as short.

"Just the fact that I am able to walk into the room and talk to them and interact with them couple hours after the procedure is very gratifying," Aquino said.

He says that candidates for this type of procedure need to have had a conduit placed by a previous surgery. And if that conduit is leaking or narrowed, then they could be eligible.