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Mending Children’s Broken Hearts Mending hearts

May 2006

by Natalie Gutierrez

Colman Collins turned 2 on March 30, a momentous birthday for any toddler but especially so for Colman. When he was still in the womb, Health Science Center faculty diagnosed him with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition in which the left side of the heart is not fully developed. With a left ventricle, aorta, aortic valve and mitral valve unfit to meet the heart’s workload, Colman required lifesaving intervention immediately after birth.

He benefited from two surgeries performed at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital and led by John H. Calhoon, M.D., the Calhoon President’s Council Chair for Excellence in Surgery at the Health Science Center. Through the Academic Children’s Hospital and CHRISTUS Santa Rosa’s Children’s Heart Network, Health Science Center physicians from the departments of pediatrics, anesthesiology and surgery (division of cardiothoracic surgery) have all been involved in Colman’s case.

The outlook for children with even the most complex cardiac abnormalities continues to improve. "We offer a full range of interventional procedures to help youngsters avoid open-heart surgery," said James H. Rogers Jr., M.D., clinical professor of pediatrics at the Health Science Center and medical director of the Children’s Heart Network. New techniques are used that eliminate the need to open the chest. Pain and hospital stays for these South Texas children are greatly reduced.

Colman Collins carries around a plastic stethoscope as a reminder of his experience. When his older brother Liam, 3˝, sees Colman’s chest scar, he says Colman has an "ouchy heart." But Heather Collins, Colman’s mother, says the blond-haired tyke has so much energy that he gets into everything. "He’s crazy and rambunctious – so normal," she said.

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