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CHOC HEART INSTITUTE REPORTS SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME ON SMALLEST BABY TO UNDERGO OPEN-HEART SURGERY IN ORANGE COUNTY
March 14, 2005

The smallest baby to undergo open-heart surgery in Orange County is recovering in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). Dr. Mark Bleiweis, medical director of the CHOC Heart Institute, performed surgery on Malakai Vavau Luafalemana, who weighs 1.3 kilograms (just under three pounds), on March 11, 2005 to repair a rare congenital heart defect known as truncus ateriosis. The complex defect, in which only one artery originates from the heart and forms both the aorta and the pulmonary artery, occurs in less than one out of every 10,000 live births. Born at 31 weeks, Malakai was transferred to CHOC shortly after his birth. He received care in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, prior to undergoing the delicate open-heart surgery, which lasted close to four hours. He is doing well, recovering in the CVICU, where he is expected to stay for a few weeks. Dr. Bleiweis, a cardiothoracic surgeon who specializes in complex congenital heart defects, reports that Malakai is in good cardiovascular condition - a remarkable accomplishment given the seriousness of his defect, his age and size. "We knew the surgery would be extremely difficult, but the entire cardiac team was ready and felt confident in our ability to get the job done," says Dr. Bleiweis. "Malakai still has a long road ahead of him, including another heart surgery when he is older, but he has proven to be a little fighter." About The CHOC Heart Institute -The CHOC Heart Institute specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric cardiac patients, from prenatal to 17 years. Offering the latest in monitoring, telemetry, and life support systems, the Institute performs more than 250 cardiac procedures annually and is the only facility in Orange County to perform pediatric open-heart surgery and therapeutic catheterization procedures.

About CHOC Children's: Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2013-2014) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital, CHOC Children's is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional healthcare network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, several primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four centers of excellence - The CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

CHOC earned the Gold Level CAPE Award from the California Council of Excellence, the only children’s hospital in California to ever earn this distinction, and was awarded Magnet designation, the highest honor bestowed to hospitals for nursing excellence.  Recognized for extraordinary commitment to high-quality critical care standards, CHOC’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) is the first in the United States to earn the Pediatric Beacon Award for Critical Care Excellence.

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Media Contact:
Denise Almazan, Director of Public Relations
phone: (714) 509-8680
email: pr@chocchildrens.org

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