DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A tiny baby at a North Texas hospital is alive today because of the skilled hands of surgeons and the advances in medical science. The infant was born with a rare type of heart defect — he only has half a heart.

When CBS 11 News saw Aaron Torres last week when he was just six days old and very sick. His heart continued to beat and pump blood with the help of medications — but he was in need of heart surgery.

Aaron has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart is underdeveloped.

It’s a rare disease and Aaron’s mother, Stephanie Torres, was very nervous.

“Yes because he’s the first, my first baby, so it’s overwhelming, nervous, anxious to take him home,” she explained.

Stephanie first learned her son had a heart defect when she was just five months pregnant. The discovery was made during a sonogram. Since the diagnosis Stephanie was nervous about the surgery that would someday come.

heart 3 Medical Advances Help North Texas Baby With Half A Heart

(credit: CBSDFW.COM)

Cardiac surgeon Dr. Eric Mendeloff would perform the operation that was first done successfully in 1981.

“Prior to that, there was no type of palliation or treatment for babies born with these heart defects and they died from it uniformly,” explained Mendeloff, the Founder and Surgical Director of the Congenital Heart Surgery Program at Medical City Children’s Hospital. “Now the short and long-term outcomes haven gotten much, much better, such that the survival with surgery is in excess of 85-percent.”

According to Mendeloff, advances with the surgical procedure and better treatment after surgery have greatly increased the survival rate for babies. But that didn’t mean there wouldn’t be risks with Aaron’s 8-hour surgery.

Mendeloff described the procedure as “very high-risk” and “complex.”

By the time Aaron is 3-years-old he will have undergone three major operations to reconstruct his heart to redirect the blood supply.

Eight hours after he was wheeled into the operating room, Aaron’s mother learned the first surgery was a success.

‘He’s going to be a normal baby, but here’s going to be some things he can’t do, like sports,” she said. “I want him to be able to run around and stuff life that.”

If all three surgeries go well, Aaron should be able to lead a reasonably active life.

Just a few days after his first surgery Aaron was taken off the breathing machine and was able to breathe on his own.

Aaron is still very sick but has made significant progress in recovery from his first surgery. As it stands doctors are expecting to discharge him from the hospital next week.

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