Baby born with half a working heart gets lifesaving surgeries

By: Tom Campbell Email
By: Tom Campbell Email

A tiny little boy, known as a blue baby, Jacob Rodriguez had just half of a working heart when he was born. His first life saving surgery came when he was only two days old.

"As soon as he was born, he was whisked away from you?" we asked.

"He was ripped away with just a touch of a hand," said Jacob's mother, Melissa Rodriguez. "It was very hard."

It's hard to imagine for most parents, but Melissa and Jacob's father Danny had been preparing for this. They had known since 20 weeks into the pregnancy that Jacob had a serious problem.

His first operation was followed a week later by another, and then a third at six months. His mom now describes it as "re-plumbing his heart."

"They pretty much re-routed all of his blood flow to where his heart only pumps blood that has oxygen in it. Blood that's de-oxygenated comes through his lungs. Now it goes through his heart the way a normal heart would pump to the lungs. His just pumps through the body," she said.

Now five years old, Jacob is as happy as he can be. A fourth surgery last year completed the process. This spring, Jacob celebrated with a special trip to Disney World. A young man of few words, Jacob told us that he enjoyed his trip, and his favorite thing was the fireworks display. He also told us he enjoys the playground where he loves to swing.

"It's meant the world to us," Danny said. "We went through some rough times there before he was born. But as you can see, he's just great. You couldn't ask the Lord for anything else."

Melissa says her greatest joy is not seeing Jacob get tired anymore.

He has checkups every six months. "I think you fixed him too well," said Melissa joked with his doctors.

"We consider Dr. Lutin a part of our family," Melissa said. "Bill Lutin's been a part of my pregnancy since I was 25 weeks pregnant, and he's still following us 5 years later. As far as the surgeons and nurses, we consider each and every one of them a very big blessing in our lives."

Jacob may be a little boy with a big smile right now, but he has a great outlook for a long and happy life thanks to that wonderful care which started weeks before he was born.

"It's a great place," Danny said. "They treat you like you're part of their family. When you leave, you'll come back just to visit."

This five-year-old tells his parents he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. If he does, perhaps he can save lives, just as his was saved at the Children's Medical Center.


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