GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands, Wednesday July 18, 2018 – The delighted and relieved mother of baby Grayson Reneau from Belize described her experience with the medical experts at Health City Cayman Islands as “unbelievable” after they successfully performed a complex heart operation to give her child a normal life.
Jamie Lord said her baby son, Grayson, was born with a heart murmur which he was expected to outgrow by two months, but when this did not occur specialists in Belize diagnosed him with Tetralogy of Fallot, a heart defect which requires surgical intervention.
Tetralogy of Fallot, also known as TOF, is relatively rare, occurring in about five of every 10,000 births. Although this heart defect has been recognized for more than 120 years, the exact cause is still unknown. The defect occurs during the heart’s development before birth.
TOF can cause alarming symptoms, including what are known as “tet spells” during which babies with the defect turn very blue, have difficulty breathing, become limp, and occasionally lose consciousness. Other symptoms may include a heart murmur, finger clubbing, and easy tiring upon breastfeeding.
If infants with Tetralogy of Fallot are not treated, the symptoms usually become progressively more severe. Blood flow to the lungs may be further decreased and severe cyanosis may cause life-threatening complications. Cyanosis is defined as the bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin or mucous membranes due to the tissues near the skin surface having low oxygen saturation.
It is a common symptom of Tetralogy of Fallot, and is the reason why children with the congenital defect are often referred to as “blue babies”.
With the help of the charities Gift of Life Belize and Gift of Life Tampa, along with the Rotary Club of Belize, several hospitals in the U.S. and the Caribbean were canvassed before Health City Cayman Islands agreed to performed the surgery.
Upon evaluation of baby Grayson, Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil, Clinical Director and Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Health City, confirmed defects consistent with this congenital heart condition.
“The baby had two holes inside the heart. One of the valves was not developed. And the pipe that carried blood to the lung was hypoplastic – really narrow – and the right side of the heart [had a] really thick wall. Two pipes that come from the heart, one is supposed to come from the left side [and the other] from the right side. Instead of that, both came from one side.
The four classic characteristics of Tetralogy of Fallot include a hole in the wall between the two lower chambers of the heart; a narrowing of the pulmonary valve and main pulmonary artery; thickening of the right ventricular muscle; and an overriding aorta, which allows blood from both ventricles to enter the aorta.
Dr. Binoy – as he is referred to – and his team scrubbed up and undertook the intense and complicated series of surgical procedures: “We had to do lot of plumbing work to get the right pipe from the right chamber and close the hole so that one chamber will pump into one pipe … and enlarge the pipe that was small … it took quite a long time.”
The Health City teams dedicated time and careful attention to the repair of the complex condition and Dr. Binoy was pleased with the outcome: “He’s now very active and his mother says he is very naughty now, it seems. So he’s fully cured. He will not have any trouble in his life. Like any other baby, he’ll grow. He’ll have all the activities, he’ll play with his friends. He’s doing very well.”
Lord, having waited for a long time for other clinics to accept her son for surgery, admitted to having reservations about Health City because the facility was not previously known to her. On arrival she was reassured of its outstanding reputation. “I was kind of nervous because we had the option of either going to the Caribbean or the U.S. … still nervous up until the time I arrived, but I was happy as well because my son would have gotten that surgery that he needs to have a normal life. I’m so happy about it.”
Grayson’s mother credited a group of Belizeans living in the Cayman Islands for their supportive love and prayers which kept her strong and positive until the operation was completed. “And, when I saw Dr. Binoy come in and he told me that Grayson is okay and everything went well, I was so happy. I just started crying and hugged him and everything and he was so nice and warm. He said that Grayson will be able to live a normal, happy, healthy life. He can go on to have children, [get] married and everything. And that was just the most beautiful song to ever hear.”
Full of emotion, she also recognized the caregivers and other Health City staff: “I’m just so thankful to all of them. All the nurses who took good care of Grayson, everybody has been really good to us. I just want to say I’m very thankful. I’m happy. I’m glad and I wish [to say thank you to] everybody back home and that my baby will be able to have a normal healthy life due to the program that we were a part of. Health City is one of the best hospitals I’ve ever experienced and everything is really nice here.”