February 26, 2016 12:39 pm
Updated: February 26, 2016 6:05 pm

Rare heart procedure done in the womb saves baby’s life

A baby in California is alive after a rare procedure that was performed before he was even born.


Samantha Davila was 27 weeks into her pregnancy when doctors discovered the left side of her unborn baby’s heart was not developing properly.  The diagnosis was hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS).

Babies born with this very rare condition — HLHS with restrictive atrial septum have a 50 per cent neonatal mortality rate, according to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).

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“You can imagine, without half your heart it’s hard to survive, right?” father Marco Davila told CBS News.

Doctors at the hospital told the family the baby, who is now named Grayson and is three months old, would need open heart surgery once he was born. But to get there they would need to perform a procedure while he was still in the womb.

READ MORE: Sonogram reveals dying twin holding unborn sister’s hand in womb

What made the situation even more urgent was blood was not flowing properly, getting stuck in the left side of his heart.

“You sort of feel like everything’s stacked against you,” said Samantha Davila told CBS News.

Grayson Davila recovering from a heart procedure.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Doctors at CHLA performed a heart procedure – a fetal cardiac intervention – while the baby was still in the womb. Using a fine needle through Samantha’s abdomen, going into the womb, doctors put small stent into Grayson’s heart. That successful procedure bought them some time, so when Grayson was born he was able to have open heart surgery.

“Completing this highly specialized fetal intervention procedure contributed to Grayson’s ability to survive after his birth,” said Ramen Chmait, director of Los Angeles Fetal Surgery, a branch of the CHLA-USC Institute for Maternal-Fetal Health. “It successfully strengthened his lungs so the surgeons could do their job after he was born.”

Grayson is now three months old and his heart is functioning well.  He still faces two more procedures but doctors say he is doing very well.

SEE BELOW:  Video from CHLA about Grayson’s heart and procedure.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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