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Doctors save heart of baby in Shanghai
By Hu Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-23 02:07

SHANGHAI: Doctors have successfully performed heart surgery on a baby boy, the youngest and smallest such patient in China.

The 1.5-kilogram premature baby, Xinyu, was born on January 14, two months early, and diagnosed as having a serious congenital heart defect.

"The baby had serious heart failure, difficulty in breathing and couldn't be fed like a normal baby. Heart surgery was the only way to save his life, although it was quite challenging," said Dr Jia Bin, deputy director of the Cardiovascular Centre at the Children's Hospital of Fudan University where the operation was carried out yesterday.

Xinyu's mother had lost two babies in pregnancy, so she and her husband agreed the risky surgery could be carried out.

"We know it's the first time heart surgery has been carried out on such a tiny baby, but it's also the only chance for us. And we're confident in Dr Jia," the baby's father told China Daily, asking not to be named.

Surgeons explained the greatest risks of the surgery were the fact the baby was premature and therefore weighed very little. He is very weak and his heart tissue is extremely fragile, meaning the surgeons had a tough job to do.

Yesterday morning Xinyu was taken to the operating theatre and given anaesthetic. The operation then took place over three hours.

Last night the baby was in a stable condition. More surgery will be performed later this week.

Doctors said the baby will grow normally if his heart functions normally.

The Cardiovascular Centre at the Children's Hospital is one of the leaders in treating infant heart diseases in China. In 2004, the centre performed 650 heart operations on babies and children with a mortality rate of just 0.77 per cent.

Congenital heart disease affects seven newborns in every 1,000 infants in China.

Around 17 million babies are born every year.

However, less than 30,000 heart surgeries are performed each year around the country. Many more babies do not get treatment in time because their families cannot afford medical costs.

(China Daily 02/23/2005 page3)

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