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Two Girls from Russia Receive Gift of Life for the Holidays at St. Francis Hospital

Michael Yurieff  | Published on 12/21/2013
“Without this procedure, these children would grow up without the quality of life most kids take for granted,” says Sean Levchuck, M.D., Chairman of Pediatric Cardiology, who performed the procedures at St. Francis just two days ago. “After an overnight stay at the hospital, the children were back on their feet – ready to play the very next day.”
 
The condition called patent ductus arteriosus or PDA is a heart problem that affects some babies after birth. Maria’s PDA was discovered when her pediatrician evaluated her after she was born. Viktoria’s condition was discovered later as a result of medical testing when she had a small cyst removed from her foot. The opening in the heart allows oxygen-rich blood from the aorta to mix with oxygen-poor blood from the pulmonary artery. The condition can strain the heart and increase blood pressure in the lung arteries, eventually leading to heart failure if uncorrected. However, by using a catheter-based device, Dr. Levchuck is able to navigate through the arteries and deliver a plug to the space.
 

The state-of-the-art procedure has been the greatest gift the girls could receive this Christmas. They were brought here by Russian Gift of Life USA, the humanitarian organization that brings hundreds of children to the U.S. to receive life-saving cardiac procedures from physicians such as Dr. Levchuck, who, along with St. Francis Hospital, donates all medical services.

The girls’ mothers, who accompanied them on the trip, say it’s a dream come true. Maria’s mom, Valeria, says her daughter, who just turned six last week, loves fish, aquariums, and the movie character, the Little Mermaid. Viktoria’s mother, Irina, says her little girl loves baby dolls. She hopes that one day her daughter will have a child of her own, something that might not have been possible without the life-saving procedure.

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