“Analiah could have easily ended up having five operations by the time she was 21,” said Burke, adding that there is a 50-50 chance of surviving each surgery.
Another option would have been to perform a surgery on Analiah that would have left her heart with a single-ventricle, a procedure that automatically cuts life expectancy in half.
“I don’t think she would have survived going down that path,” said Burke, adding that this procedure is done on babies with well-formed lungs. Due to her wall-to-wall heart, Analiah’s lungs were squeezed and too small.
When Burke runs over in his mind all the other options he could have taken, he does not think any of them would have saved Analiah’s life.
And while doctors are not sure about the long-term effects of such an operation, the outcome so far has been positive. Four echocardiograms have showed that blood is flowing normally in Analiah’s valve. Doctors will not know whether the stem cells are rebuilding her tricuspid valve until Analiah grows.
“Time will tell if her own valve has become her own living human valve,” said Burke, adding that if Analiah’s heart doubles or quadruples in size in the coming years, then the surgery has been successful.
In the meantime, Analiah has grown into a healthy and happy 13-pound baby.
“She does not cry a lot,” said her mother. “She is always happy and laughing with everyone.”
On a recent visit to the family’s home, Analiah, dressed in a white dress with pink, green, black and brown polka dots, played with her toys and crawled in her living room, learning how to walk.
Said Burke: “Every day that Analiah lives is a triumph for her family and we can some day see if her heart is really growing. These are the baby steps on this long journey. And she is taking her first baby steps along with this journey.”