Heart-strong warrior baby thrives after surgery days after birth

Photo credit: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford

At seven days old, little Kennedy Greenfield underwent surgery during a five hour long procedure to repair a congenital heart defect.

Mom Marlo Greenfield was halfway through her pregnancy when ultrasound scans revealed that the baby's fetal aorta and left side of her heart were abnormally small, according to officials with Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

"It was very scary information to hear when we were hoping for a healthy baby,” Kennedy's father, David Greenfield said in a Packard Children’s Hospital press release.

Several weeks later, doctors conducted a fetal echocardiogram and recommended that the Greenfields move to Palo Alto from their home in Oakley, to be closer to Packard Children’s, where the baby would be born and receive treatment.

On July 24, shortly after their move, Marlo went into labor and Kennedy arrived.

As soon as she was born, a team of neonatologists and cardiologists quickly got to work and immediately stabilized her.

Kennedy was closely monitored as doctors put the baby on medication to help maintain her circulation until surgery.

“The blood pressure in the baby’s lungs drops; you want that to occur before you do cardiac surgery," said neonatologist William Rhine, MD, professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "We also evaluate other organ systems, such as the brain and kidneys, to make sure they are ready for surgery,” Rhine added. 

When it was time for surgery, a team of specialists worked on the tiny baby.

Kennedy was placed on a heart-lung bypass machine. Surgeons then removed the too-small portion of her aortic arch and then reconstructed an aortic arch from the baby's own blood vessel tissue. 

While the procedure sounds extremely complicated, surgeon Dr. Katsuhide Maeda and his experienced team were confident it would go well. 

"This is a relatively straightforward procedure for our team,” said Dr. Maeda.

Kennedy remained under close watch as she recovered from surgery.

Then in August, she was well enough to go home for the first time.

The baby is doing well and her parents are celebrating every moment with their little warrior. 

“She’s absolutely beautiful, very content and happy,” said her proud dad. “Of course, I’m a little biased, but I think she’s perfect in every way.”