Children's Hospital Los Angeles surgeons successfully treat baby born with backwards heart

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Doctor's at Children's Hospital Los Angeles faced a tremendous challenge: a baby born with a backwards heart.

His journey is nothing short of remarkable. Doctors prevailed through teamwork, hope and heart .

Where to put the stethoscope used to be tricky when listening to 2-year-old Ruben Corona's heart.

"His heart was born backwards in the chest so basically instead of his heart pointing this way, it was pointing that way," explained the surgical director of CHLA's Heart Transplant Program, Dr. Cynthia Herrington.

Ruben had a faulty valve and one pumping chamber.

"It was very scary." said Ruben's mom, Lila Hernandez. She found out about her son's condition about 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

"The first option that was given to me was terminating my pregnancy," Hernandez said. "So I thought, 'Oh my gosh, this is a death sentence. If this is what they're giving me, you know, I thought there was no hope for him."
Then Ruben's family met with doctors at CHLA. They mapped out a plan to rebuild his heart.

"We do a lot of what we call single ventricle heart surgeries here at children's," Herrington said.

After a few procedures, it became clear Ruben needed a heart transplant.

"His heart function was very poor," Hernandez said.

Not only was baby Ruben's heart facing the wrong way, but all of the blood vessels and connections that should have been on the right side were on the left. So when he got his new heart, doctors had to do a lot of rearranging.

"So all of those little connections where the vessels for the liver come in or where the inferior vena cava comes in, all those things had to be moved to where they belong before you can put the new heart in," Herrington explained.

During the five-hour surgery last August, Herrington had to lengthen and create new blood vessels. The surgery was a success.

"We're not talking about if he's going to live this year or not, we're talking about how many decades he's going to live," shared CHLA pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jondavid Menteer.

Ruben shows his mom everyday just how big his heart is.

"He's come a long way. He really is a miracle," Hernandez said. "When he sees other kids, he wants to run and hug them!"

It's a complete turnaround for a baby born with a backwards heart.
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