Puerto Rican Babies With Heart Defects Undergo Surgery in Miami

The devastation in Puerto Rico almost took the lives of three newborn babies. The babies were born with heart conditions and needed the additional medical care as the island began to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Maria ripped across the region. Fortunately, the fragile infants were flown in to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami to undergo heart surgery.

Christine Silvagnoli was grateful her daughter Amelia was transported to Miami. Little Amelia has a highly lethal heart defect. She was scheduled to have surgery when Maria slammed the island.

Her family says once the hurricane hit, all four children’s hospitals on the island had no power and some had no blood banks. The hospital where Amelia was being treated called the Nicklaus Childrenb’s Hospital.

“They actually made contact with us, because they needed help to transfer these babies out, or else those babies would not have survived,” said Dr. Darline Santana-Acosta, Pediatric Cardiac Intensivist at Nicklaus.

The Miami hospital immediately moved into action to help transport the families from Puerto Rico. The families said it was a miracle.

“I couldn't believe it, because I really thought that it couldn't happen,” said Silvagnoli.

Within 48 hours the storm flight crews arrived in San Juan for the babies. Once they arrived in Miami, doctors spent over 20 hours of heart surgery on the three babies.

“At first, we thought it was the wrong decision. Now, we're just grateful for everything that they have done for us,” said Silvagnoli.

The newborns’ conditions improved after the surgeries.

“They are currently in stable condition, as of now. One of them is eating which was not the situation before,” said Dr. Santana-Acosta.

The families will remain in South Florida until the babies are well enough to travel back to Puerto Rico.

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