Parents name baby Los Angeles Strong Heart for special heart surgeries at CHLA that will save his life

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- An infant with a "strong heart" despite a congenital defect is making for a perfect Valentine's Day story.

Sometimes you name your child after a loved one or something else that carries meaning. For one couple, the name of Los Angeles represented a chance at life.

Sweet crying sounds from a newborn greeted doctors. His father Bryan Mafoa said his son's name is part of his destiny.

"I've never been to L.A. We came here for one reason - and he's the reason," Mafoa said.

Hawaii is where baby L.A.'s parents live and they came to Children's Hospital Los Angeles because it's the only center on the West Coast offering a new type of treatment for his rare congenital heart problem.

"In essence, baby L.A. was born with half a heart - a condition that we call hypoplastic left heart syndrome," said cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Ram Kumar Subramanyan.

Subramanyan said surgeons will do a series of operations during the first three years of life to rebuild the right side of L.A.'s heart to do the pumping work of both sides.

"We can reroute the heart to pump blood to the body effectively," he said.

But during the second surgery, Los Angeles will receive an injection of his own stem cells harvested from his cord blood.

Rerouting the heart's right ventricle to become the main pumping chamber for the entire body is not a permanent solution so the goal of stem cell therapy is to create a stronger heart.

"We now feel immediately after the first year of the second operation, children who get the injection maintain their heart function better than those who do not receive the injection," Subramanyan said.

Baby Los Angeles also has a middle name - Strong Heart.

"He has Los Angeles in his name, but his middle name Strong Heart is something we are going to make sure he gets," Subramanyan said.

Los Angeles Strong Heart is a trailblazer in this new frontier of hypoplastic left heart treatment. And, his name carries his hope.

"There's really hope. Honestly, there is. I promise you," Mafoa said.
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