South Florida doctor performs life-saving heart surgery on baby

MIAMI (WSVN) - A mother and her baby celebrated a “miraculous moment” after a South Florida physician performed a life-saving surgery.

At six weeks old Calvin Taylor has never been home and has spent all of his days since birth in hospitals. But on Thursday, his mother, Sarah Lemons, can smile knowing she will leave with him soon.

“I can hold him and cuddle him and not be planning his funeral, which I had already been working on that because it was so bad,” said Lemons.

At seven hours old Calvin stopped breathing. It quickly became clear he had lethal heart defects. What wasn’t quick was finding a doctor who would perform such a complicated and rare operation on the baby boy. A stroke complicated matters. Four doctors told Sarah, “No, he’s inoperable.”

“The thing that kept me going was seeing the hurt in my other three kids faces, and I couldn’t just tell them, you know, ‘As excited as you guys are for your baby brother, he’s never going to come home.’ That just wasn’t an option,” she said.

So Lemons turned to a Facebook group for mothers and found a doctor who would take on their case, Chief of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Dr. Redmond Burke at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital. He describes the lifesaving procedure, which he had never performed under these circumstances.

“When we operate on babies with hypoplastic left heart, we know we’re going to have to rebuild the aorta, and we had to do that with Calvin,” said Burke. “Most of those babies, the veins that come back from their lungs drain right, normally into the heart. Calvin’s don’t. They drain to the wrong place in his heart, but we fixed that.”

“Two weeks ago, we operated on Calvin, and we rebuilt his heart in a five-hour operation, and he survived it,” said Burke.

Calvin was admitted to the hospital three weeks ago, and his mother has been by his side the entire time, spending every night with him in his room.

Burke says Calvin’s recovery has been stunning. He’s alert, eating and is set to head home to Missouri in a few days with his mother to reunite with his father and three siblings.

“A baby that everybody else was going to give up on, Calvin’s mom just wouldn’t give up on him, and he’s alive today because of her,” said Burke.

“Just because books and everything tell you that this baby is going to die, don’t mean necessarily that’s what’s going to happen,” said Lemons.

Burke said Calvin has two more surgeries ahead of him in the coming months and years, but his prognosis is excellent.

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