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Two-Month-Old Viktor Has A Heart Defect. Open Heart Surgery Can Save His Life. Please Help.


Viktor is his parents’ first child. His mother, Anastasia, has a small business, and his father, Alexei, works as a driver. The family lives in an apartment in the small town of Kedrovy, in a remote, heavily-forested area 200 miles north of Tomsk. During the long winter season, roads are built of ice. During the non-winter months, access by road is impossible, and the only way to get in or out of Kedrovy is by helicopter.

All the residents of Kedrovy are treated at the town’s general hospital, where there is only one pediatrician on staff. Pediatricians from Tomsk periodically travel to Kedrovy to examine local children. Anastasia took advantage of this opportunity and brought Viktor in for a regular check-up, even though his delivery had been normal and the local pediatrician had pronounced Viktor healthy. However, the visiting pediatrician from Tomsk detected a heart murmur. Based on the results of Viktor’s subsequent examination, the doctor arranged for Viktor and his parents to be transported to Tomsk via helicopter.

Fortunately for Baby Viktor, his admission to the Tomsk Cardiac Center coincided with Heart to Heart’s 2011 surgical-educational mission. An echocardiogram confirmed his rare and serious heart condition, commonly called ALCAPA. Children born with this condition, if it is not treated promptly, rarely survive infancy. In the U.S., this defect is almost always repaired within 24 to 48 hours of detection.

Heart to Heart pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Bert Litwin led Viktor’s complex open heart procedure two days later. After the ten-hour operation, Dr. Evgeny Krivoshchekov, Tomsk’s lead pediatric cardiac surgeon, explained to Anastasia and Alexei about the baby’s post-op course of treatment: Viktor’s sternum would be left open for the next several days to manage tissue edema.

Three days later, Viktor’s chest was closed; and three days after that, he was well enough to be transferred to the step-down unit. Viktor and his parents were able to leave the hospital on May 5, just two weeks after his surgery. With timely treatment, most babies do very well after this type of surgery and can expect to live a normal life. The Heart to Heart team looks forward to examining Viktor in Tomsk next year.

Anastasia has become very knowledgeable about congenital heart disease. When Viktor’s condition was diagnosed, she searched the Internet for information on his anomaly and learned how rare it is. ALCAPA accounts for only 0.25-0.50% of all congenital heart defects. Anastasia is very thankful that her son had immediate access to life-saving open heart surgery.

Based on an interview conducted in Tomsk, in Russian, by Lena Traer, Heart to Heart staff.

For more about the Heart to Heart medical missions to Tomsk that Russian Gift of Life, USA helps to sponsor, please click here.

Viktor was successfully operated at the Tomsk Cardiac Center in Siberia on April 27, 2011.

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