New hope for baby born with 'broken heart'

6:20 PM, Feb 14, 2011   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS --  In a perfect world, a two-month-old baby boy would only have to worry about his future as a heartbreaker.

But in this imperfect world, the biggest concern for two-month-old Christopher Nelson Thomas is his broken heart.

Christopher has a rare but serious congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. That means Christopher was born with the left side of his heart severely underdeveloped, according to his doctor, Dr. Daniel Gruenstein at Amplatz Children's Hospital on the University of Minnesota campus.

Until 30 years ago HLHS almost always was fatal to a baby.

With this abnormality, the heart can't circulate blood to the body properly.

In Christopher's case, surgeries have to be performed to keep him alive.

He's already had one performed and two stints have been put in.

So far, Christopher is holding up well.

"It's rough, but it's special that I can still have him," Crystal Lemke, Christopher's mother, said Thursday.

Christopher and his mom have to live at the Ronald McDonald house until his next surgery in five or six months.

Dr. Gruenstein says it is crucial Christopher is very close to the hospital at all times in case something happens.

"The next will be a big operation but he is feeding well and growing well and he ought to be a lot stronger and able to handle it better at that time," Dr. Gruenstein said of the next procedure.

Dr. Gruenstein says that first surgery done on Christopher was a hybrid of the surgical system developed for HLHS.

Dr. Gruenstein and his team at Amplatz Children's Hospital has performed it less than 20 times since it's inception in 2007 and so far, the results are a 100 percent success.

That's the kind of statistic that eases Crystal's mind because she wants what any mom would, for her child to avoid every heartbreak they can.

The family has set up a fund to help with medical expenses.

Donations can be made at any US Bank location.

The account is called the Christopher Thomas fund.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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