Austin baby born with rare heart defect turns 1, parents and doctor share update

Chase’s heart defect was found while Jaime was pregnant, leading to an open-heart surgery at just five days old.

AUSTIN, Texas — An Austin family is sharing an update after their son with a rare heart defect recently turned one.

Chase Moreno was born with what is called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

“The ultrasound technician was struggling with a specific part of the scan and you could tell she was a bit flustered and wasn’t sure what was going on, we were kind of just like, ‘OK,'” said Jaime Moreno, Chase’s mother.

It’s news a pregnant Jaime Moreno never planned for.

“Our son’s heart wasn’t growing as it was supposed to and he had a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which at the time sounded like a completely foreign language,” said Jaime Moreno.

Stephen and Jaime Moreno are the parents of now 1-year-old Chase and their older son, Blake.

Chase’s heart defect was found while Jaime Moreno was pregnant, but she soon connected with Dr. Eileen Stewart, pediatric cardiologist at Pediatrix Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology Associates of Texas and the director of the Single Ventricle Program at Dell Children’s Medical Center.

“Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a problem where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped and it’s unable to do the workload that the left side of the heart should normally do in pumping to the body,” said Dr. Stewart.

Five days after birth, Chase was sent in for his first open-heart surgery, one of three surgeries he will go through as a child.

His father, Stephen Moreno, looked back on the surgeries, saying that, in the moment, he was scared for his son and the entire family.

Chase then went through a second surgery months later and is now waiting for his third, which will come in a couple of years.

“When they get to late preschool, kindergarten age, so somewhere between three and six years of age, depending on the child and what their heart looks like, they have a third surgery and we call that the Fontan completion,” said Dr. Stewart.

Stephen Moreno noted that the help Dr. Stewart gave through her program at Dell Children’s, called IMPACT, was crucial for him and Jaime.

“You know, those meetings and visits with Dr. Stewart’s team, it was more like seeing extended family and it was actually kind of fun,” said Stephen Moreno.

For Chase, he continues to keep a brave face on through it all.

“He is really a very functionally normal child. And so, without seeing the scars on his chest or, you know, knowing our story, you would never know when you met him, you would never know that he was dealing with so much, I say, under the hood,” said Jaime Moreno.

Both Jaime Moreno and Dr. Stewart now look forward to continuing their work with the IMPACT program for other families going through similar situations.

“It doesn’t have to be as dark of a cloud as it feels like initially. I mean, there really has been a tremendous amount of medical progress that’s been made and even more coming,” said Jaime Moreno.

Watch the full interview with the Morenos and Dr. Stewart here: 

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