Baby’s Life-threatening Heart Defect Healed with Unique Surgery (PKG)

Meet an Ohio family who was expecting to greet a bouncing baby boy – but, instead, learned their infant son was facing a life-threatening heart defect. Learn how a unique surgery saved his tiny heart and changed his life.

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CLEVELAND – Drew and Kari Erdman expected to welcome their second child with a routine delivery – but their baby boy arrived with a surprise.

“He had a murmur and there was something that was not right with him, so, at this point we’re in full blown panic,” said Kari Erdman. “He’s hooked up to all these different machines, and they immediately start talking to us about worst outcomes; he has something wrong with his heart, and they don’t know if he’s going to make it or not.”

Heart defects are common at birth – but some are more serious than others.

The Erdman’s infant son, Carson, was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis – a narrowing of the aortic valve’s opening, limiting blood flow to his body.

He was transported to Cleveland Clinic Children’s in heart failure.

“Some children don’t survive after birth with this type of congenital heart defect, others, like Carson, do okay for a while,” said pediatric cardiologist, Tess Saarel, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s. 

Carson had open heart surgery to repair his aortic valve, but soon after, his mitral valve began to leak, and at 3 months of age, he was back in the operating room.

“We repaired the mitral valve and we replaced the aortic valve with a larger valve, which is the pulmonary valve,” said Hani Najm, M.D., Chair of Pediatric and Congenital Heart Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “And thereby, we’ve given the best options for that left ventricle to grow, as well as to normalize function.”

Since his surgery, Carson’s heart has improved dramatically, and doctors believe he’s avoided a heart transplant.

“Overall he’s doing well; his personality is blooming, he’s starting to move around and be a normal baby,” said Drew Erdman, Carson’s father.

“We’re just excited to see him grow and become the little boy that he’s born to be,” Kari Erdman added.  

Carson is thriving and will be followed closely. When he’s older, he’ll need a minor procedure to replace one of the grafts in his heart. But for now, he’s considered to be ‘out of the woods.’

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