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14 Feb 2006

Dear Doc
Dear Doc,
My friend has just found out that her six week old baby girl has down syndrome. But to make matters worse, she also has two holes in her heart and has to go for surgery before she's six months old. I would like to know how serious this operation is and what her chances are for survival please.

Thank you kindly.
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Expert
HeartDoc

01 Jan 0001

Dear Kasmi,

You friends baby has a very serious problem indeed. Down syndrome babies often have associated heart defects, which can range from minor to very serious. From what you tell me, the baby has the more serious type of heart problem, which usually affects the wall between the two chambers of the heart (where these holes are). Unfortunately, this is often only part of the problem, as other parts of the heart are usually affected as well. The mitral valve can be affected as part of this “Endocardial cushion defect”, requiring complex surgery. The operation has to be done on the heart-lung machine, and is serious indeed.

Her chances for survival will depend on a number of factors: the overall state of the child, the extent of the heart defect, and, most of all, on the skill of the surgeon.

I hope things turn out well for your friend and her baby.

HeartDoc
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