History was due to repeat itself for Daniel Rodriguez. At only 13, the Hollywood eighth grader was in need of yet another open-heart surgery, the fourth of his young life. Born with a defect in his pulmonary heart valve, Daniel underwent his first open-heart surgery when he was only 10 days old and seemed destined for a future in which surgeries would be needed perhaps every decade or so as the replacement valves wore out.
But thanks to doctors at Miami Children’s Hospital, Daniel had the opportunity to break this pattern and make some history with a new procedure that spared him the complex surgery and subsequent long recovery. In February 2007, Daniel became one of the first children in the nation to benefit from a new heart valve replacement procedure in which the valve is implanted without invasive surgery.
The Congenital Heart Institute
at Miami Children’s is one of only three pediatric heart centers nationwide – and the only center in the Southeast – that participated in a Food and Drug Administration study to evaluate the use of a first-of-its-kind new heart valve replacement system. The Medtronic Melody™ Transcatheter Pulmonary Valve and Ensemble™ Transcatheter Delivery System is delivered to the heart via a tiny catheter tube and then deployed. The procedure was performed by Dr. Evan Zahn, Chief of Cardiology for the Congenital Heart Institute and an international leader in developing and implementing minimally invasive heart procedures.
For Daniel, the FDA study came just at the right moment. Instead of surgery and a lengthy and painful recovery, Daniel went home within a day of the new procedure with only a band-aid to cover the site where the valve was inserted. If future procedures are needed, a replacement valve can be inserted over the existing one using the same minimally invasive method.
Since the procedure, Daniel has grown several inches, something his parents attribute in part to better health resulting from the procedure. He is happy and healthy, and pursues hobbies, which include caring for the family reptiles, and will soon resume participating in local theater.
“We had such faith in the doctors at Miami Children’s. They had performed his earlier surgical procedures,” said Daniel’s mother Melanie Rodriguez. “So when they suggested this new technique, we had complete confidence in them. Daniel’s fast recovery has made us very glad that we did.”