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AROUND SLOVAKIA - BRATISLAVA

Baby undergoes life-saving surgery

DOCTORS in Bratislava successfully completed a heart-valve transplant on a two-month old baby in mid-March, saving his life.

DOCTORS in Bratislava successfully completed a heart-valve transplant on a two-month old baby in mid-March, saving his life.

The unique operation was performed in the Children's Cardiac Centre (DKC) in Bratislava, by a team of doctors led by the cardio-surgery department's senior consultant, Matej Nosáľ. The boy, also named Matej, weighed just under three kilogrammes and was one of the youngest and smallest patients to undergo such complex heart surgery in Slovakia. Without surgery, the patient would have died, the centre's director, Pavol Kunovský, told the SITA newswire.

"Such surgery is among the most technically-demanding heart operations," Kunovský said. "But the child now seems to be well following surgery, and no longer needs artificial ventilation."

A defect in the baby's heart valve was detected before he was born, which meant he was delivered under controlled conditions at Kramáre hospital, near the Children's Cardiac Centre. Shortly after birth, the boy underwent his first heart operation.

"Later the valve proved to be too deformed [for surgical correction] and the valvular spiral too narrow," Kunovský explained. "The child showed signs of left ventricle malfunction."

During the unique operation, the doctors replaced the aortal valve with patient's own lung valve. This was the only chance of replacing the defected aortal valve in such a small baby. This type of surgery was chosen because it was not technically possible to manufacture artificial valves small enough to use on newborn babies.

"The advantage of this kind of replacement of the aortal valve is that the lung valve will grow with the child patient," Kunovský said.

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