DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A baby’s first few breaths of life were so difficult that he almost died. But a Dallas medical team was able to diagnose the problem quickly, and perform open heart surgery the day after his birth. Now, his future is looking bright.

Everything before his birth indicated that Chase Denniss would enter the world as a healthy boy. But before his mother could even hold him, nurses and doctors whisked him away when they noticed that he was having trouble breathing. “It was scary,” said mother Tracy Denniss.

On his very first day in the world, Chase was placed on a portable machine that kept him alive. On his second day, Chase was taken to Medical City Children’s Hospital. And, after several tests, staff members realized that there was more to this situation than just a breathing problem. “The veins coming back from the lungs don’t come back to the heart like they’re supposed to,” explained Dr. Eric Mendeloff.

Doctors said that prenatal tests can sometimes pick up when babies have a condition like this, but not always. And in this case, the tests never did indicate that there would be a problem.

Once doctors discovered what needed to be done, Chase was taken into open heart surgery. The little baby’s heart, at that time, was just the size of a strawberry. Dr. Mendeloff’s live-saving solution was to cut a small hole in the back of the baby’s heart, then attach two veins from his lungs. “About a third of the surgeries that I do are on babies in their first month of life,” said Dr. Mendeloff, “but to require surgery in your first day of life is relatively uncommon.”

Finally, about three weeks after he was born, Tracy finally got to hold baby Chase for the very first time.

Now more than a month old, Chase still relies on a feeding tube, but he can be fed by a bottle, too. And despite everything that he has been through in his little life, he does not cry very much. “He’s been so brave in everything,” said Tracy. “He’s been poked and prodded, and he just takes it in. He doesn’t care. He’s just strong.”

“He’s shown so much strength and toughness,” added father Jeff Denniss. “It’s hard to complain about everyday things when he’s only 5 weeks old and has gone through so much. Just puts things in perspective.”

Chase has even been able to head home and meet his three big brothers. Dr. Mendeloff said, “There’s no greater feeling than seeing the parents pack them up and take them out the door.”

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