How My Son Survived Fetal Diagnosis Of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)

Where to begin is always a challenge when recounting the incredible story of my son Aiden’s journey from a hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) diagnosis to a healthy, energetic, chunky 9-month-old. I suppose the best place to start is at the beginning.

I was 20-weeks pregnant, attending what I thought to be a routine doctor’s appointment. Like all expectant mothers, I hoped to have an easy pregnancy full of laughter, weird cravings and endless nights of picking out baby names. Assuming that the appointment would be nothing short of predictable, I assured my husband, Jeremy, that there was no need to take off work to accompany me. However, this one appointment delivered news that changed my normal pregnancy into one with more uncertainty for the future than for the name of my unborn child.

Sitting in the examination room was a blur. All I could hear were the words “kidneys” and “hypoplastic”. When I finally got a hold of my husband, he immediately assumed that the ultrasound machine must not have been “good enough,” that machines “make mistakes” and get “bad reads.” While I felt heartbroken, my baby appeared to have an actual broken heart, one that even the best parenting can’t mend.

Our doctor sent us to Houston Perinatal Associates, whose big, fancy machines confirmed what our regular OB/GYN had already told us. Our son had HLHS. We were then referred to Texas Children’s Hospital where we met fetal cardiologist, Dr. Nancy Ayres. After what seemed like a never-ending ultrasound, Dr. Ayres told us that our son’s case was severe enough to consider a fetal heart procedure that had never been performed at Texas Children’s Hospital before. She reassured us that they had been preparing to do this procedure for a while now by building an amazing facility and training with doctors in Boston who were well practiced in the procedure. We knew that without this procedure there was a good chance that our baby may not survive, so we decided to give our son the best chance at life and proceed with the in-utero procedure.

After that, it all happened so fast. The procedure had to be done by the 28th week of pregnancy; I was already at 22 weeks. Just one day shy of 28 weeks, I successfully underwent the fetal procedure. We had survived both emotionally and physically, and were becoming more and more excited to meet our miracle child.

I returned to Houston at 37 weeks with plans to deliver at the Pavilion for Women in the coming weeks. We scheduled a C-section a day or two before I would reach 39 weeks of pregnancy but Aiden had his own plan. The nurse checked my blood pressure when I arrived to the hospital, exclaiming that it was through the roof. Before I knew it, I was on the phone with my husband telling him to get to Houston as fast as he could because our son was on his way!

Our beautiful baby boy was born on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 4:46 PM, weighing six pounds and six ounces and 19.68 inches long. We were amazed at how incredibly blessed we had been. Although Aiden had to undergo three surgeries after he was born, the fetal procedure seemed to do exactly what it needed to. He made such great progress that he was able to move out of Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) after three short months. A week after, the impossible happened when we were finally able to take Aiden home for the very first time!

It’s been a long journey, but I am happy to say that for the first time in Aiden’s life, he has spent more time outside of the hospital than inside. We owe it all to the wonderful care of our doctors and nurses. I would never lie and say that it has been easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing because at the end of it all, we have our precious son. Aiden is living proof that joy can come from even the most difficult hardships, and I feel blessed everyday to be his mom.
Aiden Balsamo, Hypoplastic Left Heart Patient

About Jennifer Balsamo, Mother of Patient

I was 20 weeks pregnant this time last year when I went to what I thought would be a routine doctor’s appointment. This one appointment changed my husband’s and my life – we were told our son had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and it was the worst case they’d ever seen.

I want to share my story of hope to help other parents.

Posted in Fetal Center, Guest Post, Heart, Pavilion for Women, Surgery, Videos

4 Responses to How My Son Survived Fetal Diagnosis Of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)

  1. Karen C says:

    I personally have the blessing of knowing the Balsamo family, including precious baby Aiden!This sweet family are truly wonderful people and they have a beautiful miracle child named Aiden. I believe that God intervened in sparing Aiden’s life and provided the doctors, technicians, and the nurses (that worked on Aiden) at Texas Children’s with the skill and knowledge to perform the surgeries on Aiden to save Aiden’s life. Texas Children’s, without a doubt, is a great hospital with fantastic, caring, doctors,nurses, and employees.Thank you so much for posting this video online to share this most precious video with all of us!

  2. Heather McNeal says:

    Our family has been so blessed by Aiden and his parents! They are a strong family and are wonderful parents. I am so blessed to be a part of their lives and to witness Aiden grow healthier and healthier everyday. We love you Jeremy, Jennifer and Aiden!

  3. Brooke Gresham says:

    I am so blessed to be a part of your family and to watch Baby Aiden grow up. God was by your sides watching over you’ll. You have a wonderful family and you’ll can make it through anything. I love you’ll.

  4. Vickie Doelitsch says:

    Sometimes after cleaning the house I turn around and turn around and see the Grandkids have gone behind me and its a mess again. This made me really think how blessed we are to have these wonderful grandchildren. My heart and prayers go out to Aiden and his beautiful family. This little boy is so adorable its hard to know he has such a lifetreathing problem. Our Prayers are ongoing.

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