By CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh

DENVER (CBS4) – A baby boy survived half a dozen heart defects thanks to doctors at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC). It was a team effort of cardiac specialists and surgeons that included the use of a 3D model of the tiny, abnormal heart.

rmhc 3d baby heart surgery

(credit: CBS)

“I’m so happy,” said Entisar Abukshim. She was delighted to see her baby’s big smile. Awab is active and aware, a far cry from the boy born in November.

“He was very sick,” Entisar told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

Awab was born 10 weeks early and weighed three and a half pounds. His heart had six defects including holes, the right side was small, an artery was on the wrong side and so was the actual heart. A missing valve was life threatening.

rmhc 3d baby heart surgery

(credit: CBS)

“He had no blood flow to his lungs under normal circumstances,” explained Dr. Abhay Divekar, MEDNAX-affiliated pediatric and adult congenital heart specialist at RMHC.

First, medicine was used to keep an artery that normally closes, open. Two months later, when Awab doubled his weight, a plastic tube was used to make a new connection.

It was the baby’s first open heart surgery. The next was much more complicated.

rmhc 3d baby heart surgery

CBS4’s Kathy Walsh interviews Dr. Abhay Divekar. (credit: CBS)

“This is as hard as it gets,” said Divekar.

He used an MRI for a 2 dimensional look. He then had a 3D model of Awab’s heart printed. It was hollowed out to see if making two pumping chambers was possible.

“It’s like the difference between looking at a map, that we did 30 years ago, and using GPS,” said Divekar.

He said the 3D model gave the heart surgeons more confidence.

“There is nothing better than seeing what it actually looks like,” Divekar added.

“It was major and scary,” said Entisar.

rmhc 3d baby heart surgery

Entisar Abukshim (credit: CBS)

But it was a success.

Entisar and her husband, Walid, know their boy will face more operations as he grows, but his problem heart is now as close to normal as possible.

Divekar said Awab may need another open heart surgery mid-childhood, but the hope is, after that, any procedures can be minimally invasive.

Kathy Walsh