Metro Detroit family creates lifesaving plan for baby with heart defect

DETROIT – One in 110 babies in the United States are born with a heart defect, and some of those newborns require surgery almost immediately.

For one local family, learning about their baby’s defect before she was born and having the plan to repair it made all the difference.

Jeanette Orozco and Edwin Cuadrado learned early in their pregnancy that their baby girl would have Down syndrome.

“We went to our first consult with our doctor, and they’re like it’s a big possibility that she could have heart complications,” said Orozco.

Their 20-week ultrasound confirmed baby Ariella had a complex heart defect.

“She had two large holes in her heart, and her valve was abnormal, so she would need surgery as an infant,” said Pediatric and Fetal Care Cardiologist Dr. Yamuna Sanil

Sanil is a pediatric and fetal care cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.

The team there worked closely with the hospital where Orozco would deliver to create a detailed plan.

“They gave us a plan, and so I’m in my head like okay, that’s what’s going to happen, this needs to happen, she’s going to be okay,” said Cuadrado.

Soon after birth, Ariella was flown to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan for surgery.

“I think the day that we actually like, ‘here you go, please fix her.’ That is the hardest moment for myself,” said Orozco.

“One of the vessels in her heart, within hours after she was born that started to become smaller. So if it was not diagnosed as a fetus, then this would have caused her life-threatening situation,” said Sanil.

Ariella needed a second surgery at three months, but she is thriving.

“It gives me immense joy to see that she is happy, healthy, and enjoying life as she should be doing and that the family is having a great time with her,” said Sanil.

Ariella’s heart will be closely monitored as she grows to make sure all of the structures are growing with her.

In case you’re wondering, Children’s Hospital doesn’t actually deliver babies, so they have a special intensive care transport team to bring critically ill babies there from other hospitals by ambulance, helicopter, or plane.

About the Author:

Pamela Osborne is thrilled to be back home at the station she grew up watching! You can watch her on Local 4 News Sundays and weeknights. Pamela joined the WDIV News Team in February 2022, after working at stations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.