SoFla Doctors Perform Life-Saving Surgery on Baby

8-months-ago, a Minnesota family was told there were no options to save their newborn little girl with a deformed heart. But that changed when they met with a South Florida doctor. (Published Tuesday, June 14, 2016)

8-month-ago, a Minnesota family was told there were no options to save their newborn little girl with a deformed heart and she was inoperable.

That's a term a surgeon at Nicklaus Children's Hospital said he "hates." He used technology available to anyone and figured out a way to save lives.

Baby Teegan, now 11-months-old, was sent home Tuesday happy and healthy.

Teegan's twin sister, Riley, was born healthy. But Teegan was born with one lung and half a heart.

The hospital where she was born in Minnesota told the family to take their babies home and say goodbye to Teegan. The family refused.

"You can look in certain text books and never find a description of a heart like Teegan's and there's no operation for a heart like Teegan's," said Dr. Redmond Burke with Nicklaus Children's hospital.

There is now, thanks to Dr. Burke, the Director of Cardiovascular Surgery at the children's hospital in Miami, who found a way to perform the impossible.

The improbable? A piece of cardboard. Using an app to upload images of Teegan's heart, Dr. Burke used Google Cardboard to create 3D images of the deformed organ.

"Once those images come up, you can look at Teegan's entire chest, heart and lungs from every angle. And that's what I used to plan her operation," Dr. Burke said.

A team of 30 doctors spent countless hours coming up with a plan, literally visualizing how to perform the surgery and created an invaluable tool: an exact replica of Teegan's sick heart.

"We rebuilt her entire aorta using parts from another persons heart," Dr. Burke said.

Two surgeries and eight months later, Teegan's heart was rebuilt and healthy.

"We made the commitment knowing that she could have the surgery but yet we may not get to take her home," said Cassidy Lexcen, Teegan's mother.

That was the reality, along with a family split by 1,700 miles for six months and enduring a lot. Baby Teegan's first Christmas was spent in the hospital after a first-of-its-kind surgery.

"Your hope is what gets you through," Lexcen said.

Hope, a cellphone, a cardboard box and a surgeon's skill sums up a new reality for the Lexcen family.

"Two surgeries later and a lot of stuff in between, it really truly is a miracle," Lexcen expressed.

Doctors said Teegan will need one more surgery when she's 3-years-old, extra oxygen until her lung gets stronger and daily medications, but she'll live a normal life.