3-D print helps doctors at the Cleveland Clinic perform ventricle switch on 9-month-old's heart

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Posted at 8:35 AM, Sep 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 18:33:24-04

CLEVELAND — Paisley Born is almost 2-years-old, but she’s gone through more than most have to deal with in a lifetime.

Megan Curtis was 30-weeks pregnant with Paisley when she went to a routine ultrasound at Fairview Hospital. It was there, that the doctors gave her news no expecting parent wants to hear.

“Her heart was actually missing a lot of walls and valves and they didn't know exactly how to diagnosis her,” said Curtis.

Paisley Born with her mother.

Curtis said it was the scariest moment of her life. Along with Heterotaxy, Paisley’s heart faced the left instead of the right and she had one working ventricle instead of two.

Dr. Hani Najm, the head of congenital heart surgery for Cleveland Clinic Children's, stepped in. He said his team worked to figure out how to create a permanent source of blood flow.

Six days after Paisley was born, she had an open-heart surgery and doctors stabilized her heart.

“You have this perfect, little, baby you're just thinking about them doing open heart surgery on this six pound little, thing,” said Curtis.

But that surgery, was just a baby step.

“We had to give her something which will replace that source because she does not have the usual anatomy or configuration of the heart that will allow flow to the lungs,” said Dr. Najm.

Normally, babies born with a single-working ventricle, like Paisley’s, get routed into a “single ventricle physiology.” Doctors, previously, would re-route that ventricle and reconfigure the circulatory process for the heart.

But for Paisley, Dr. Najm said they didn’t want to perform that procedure.

“After all these years of having and operating on patients and routing them into a single ventricle physiology, we found out that they do fail in the future they have problems,” he said.

They decided, instead, to do a ventricle-switch.

“Why? Because we are using the left for the right and the right for the left,” said Dr. Najm.

The Cleveland Clinic 3-D printed the 9-month-old’s heart beforehand.

“We needed to see this in hand before we actually look at the heart in the operating room,” he said.

And it seemed to work. The operation was a success.

For Curtis, it was an emotional moment.

“Her little fingertips weren't blue, anymore, they were pink, and her lips were pink,” she said. “That was kind of when I knew we were on the other side of her heart journey.”

Paisley was the first baby born with a single-ventricle defect, that had a ventricle-switch procedure from birth.

“The first patient who has had this plan put to her from birth,” said Dr. Najm.

Since her surgery, Dr. Najm said the team has done the procedure on six others.

“Paisley has proven to the world that when we do such a procedure they do fine and they do very well,” he said.

Now the almost 2-year-old who was born with a broken heart, has stolen the hearts of so many others.

“She always has a smile on her face,” said Curtis. I’m amazed. I really am.”

Saturday the American Heart Association of Cleveland will be holding its annual Heart Walk. Paisley will be honored as the Queen of Hearts.

She will also be celebrating the year anniversary of the ventricle-switch procedure.