Doctors knew there was a problem before Mateo was born. His mom, Kristin, was sent to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin after a routine visit to her ob-gyn didn't go as planned. She learned that Mateo would be born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a heart defect that can lead to death if not treated. Children's Hospital's Herma Heart Center has the best-published survival rates worldwide for treating this defect.
Mateo spent the first days of his life in Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit waiting for an important operation to help fix his heart. At just 10 days old, doctors performed the Norwood Procedure – the first of three planned surgeries – to help make his heart work normally.
Thanks to skilled surgeons and lots of prayers from friends and family, surgery was successful. Then, Mateo contracted RSV, a virus that can be harmful to newborn babies. Fortunately, Mateo was followed closely by the Herma Heart Center's Home Monitoring Program. He went back to Children's Hospital for treatment.
Doctors knew that something more would need to be done to help fix Mateo's heart. He underwent the Fontan Procedure, a final operation designed to allow blood to flow into the lungs.
During this time, Mateo's family was comforted by incredible support from the staff. "Nurses let me take care of my son as a mom, instead of just taking over," Kristin said. "Doctors involved us in discussions about treatment for our son. They let us voice concerns and objections."
Mateo's sister also received exceptional care. "Child Life staff helped her write a book about her brother," Kristin said. "This helped ease her anxieties by helping her understand what was happening to her baby brother."
Three open heart surgeries later, mom says life is "normal" for the world's youngest boxing superstar. Mateo's favorite part about Children's Hospital? "Playing with toys," he said. Thanks to Children's Hospital, Mateo has many years of playing with toys in his future.
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