This is the tiny heart – not much bigger than the surgeon’s thumb – of a premature baby girl who has become one of the tiniest tots in the world to undergo open heart surgery.
The little girl, who weighs only 1.6 kilogrammes (3lb 8oz), was operated on by doctors at the Paediatrics Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City in south-eastern Vietnam.
Dr Nguyen Duc Tuan, the head of the hospital’s heart surgery unit, said: “The baby’s heart was only as large as an adult’s thumb.”
The baby, whose name has not been released, is the smallest ever to undergo open heart surgery at the hospital.
Dr Tuan added: “If the anaesthesia and surgery had not been done skilfully, it would have been very dangerous for her.”
The baby was delivered more than two months premature, weighing just one kilogramme (1lb 9oz), at the city’s Tu Du Maternity Hospital.
When she was less than two weeks old, she was diagnosed with a ventricular septal defect – a seven millimetre hole in the wall separating the lower chambers of her heart – and a hole in her aorta.
She was transferred to the Paediatrics Hospital after she contracted pneumonia and doctors decided she needed surgery.
When she was five weeks old, they performed surgery to treat her aorta in the hope that would stabilise her condition until she was bigger.
But she failed to improve and doctors reluctantly took the decision to carry out open heart surgery when she was only two months old.
Fortunately, the operation was a success and the baby girl is now putting on weight. She is now 1.7 kilogrammes (3 lbs 12 oz) and is expected to be discharged from hospital in another week.
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