Over the last 60 years, pediatric cardiac surgeons and researchers have made many advances to correct different types of congenital defects, but hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS, remains one of the most difficult to treat. In HLHS, the left side of the heart, the main pumping chamber, is missing or not fully developed.
At just 4 months old, Josue Salinas Salgado underwent his second major heart surgery for HLHS – this time receiving an additional experimental treatment through a clinical study at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital. Doctors injected donated stem cells directly into the healthy side of Josue’s heart.
According to Sunjay Kaushal, MD, PhD, who is the director of pediatric cardiac surgery at UMMC and is leading the study, “The premise of this clinical trial is to boost or regenerate the right ventricle, the only ventricle in these babies, to make it pump as strongly as a normal left ventricle. Josue, one of the first children in the U.S. to receive this kind of stem cell treatment, is doing fine today.”
Dr. Kaushal says it’s too early to tell whether this stem cell approach will be effective, but he’s encouraged that similar studies in adult hearts have shown a modest benefit in how well their hearts pump blood.
In the meantime, Josue and other infants in the study continue to be monitored carefully by Children’s Heart Program cardiologist Alicia Chaves, MD, as part of a program that specializes in the care of infants with heart disease who are at high risk of complications.
ALICIA CHAVES, MD, is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Pediatric Cardiologist in the Children’s Heart Program at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
SUNJAY KAUSHAL, MD, PhD, is Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Director of Pediatric and Adult Congenital Surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center and Co-Director of the Children’s Heart Program at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital.
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