Iranian baby will receive life-saving heart surgery 'soon', OHSU officials say

Baby caught in travel ban to come to OHSU

PORTLAND, Ore. -- A 4-month-old Iranian girl who arrived in Portland earlier this week for treatment for a rare heart condition will undergo surgery "soon," hospital officials said Friday.

Oregon Health and Science University hospital said Fatemeh Reshad has been undergoing tests since she was admitted to Doernbecher's Children Hospital on February 7. 

Fatemeh has a rare congenital heart defect known as transposition of the great arteries (TGA) that affects two out of 10,000 newborns. If left untreated, the condition would kill Fatemeh. Doctors said children in the U.S. with her condition are typically treated within the first week of their life. 

Doctors performed a cardiac catheterization on Friday, a procedure in which a tube was place into a vein or artery and threaded through the blood vessels into her heart and lungs. Doctors said this was done to determine the extent of injury to her lungs.

"The procedure went well today. The results were very encouraging. Despite the excess of blood passing through her lungs we believe we can proceed with surgical correction as planned,” said Dr. Laurie Armsby with OHSU.

The hospital didn't say specifically when the surgery will take place. If all goes well, doctors expect she will be cared for in the hospital for up to three weeks.

"Fatemeh's heart defects can be repaired by closing the holes in her heart and reconnecting the transposed arteries to the proper pumping chambers of the heart,” said Dr. Irving Shen, professor of surgery at OHSU.

Fatemeh's story gained national attention after she was not allowed to travel with her family to the United States from Iran due to President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

On Feb. 3, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Fatemeh and her family had been granted a waiver by the federal government to come to the United States.

She came to Portland because her uncle and grandparents are U.S. citizens living in Oregon.

Doctors said Fatemeh's family is grateful for the support they received, particularly from lawmakers who shared her story, including Gov. Kate Brown, Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici.

"This was truly a team effort to beat the clock, given the medical and legal hurdles Fatemeh was facing,” said Jennifer Morrissey, an attorney representing the family.

OHSU said they will pay for the majority of Fatemeh's medical costs, none of which would be from public money.

(© 2017 KGW)


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