At 20 weeks, an ultrasound revealed Melissa Rodriguez’s unborn baby had a serious heart condition and would need a series of surgeries within his first months of life.
“He had only a single-chambered heart, and it was doing the work of the missing chamber, too,” says Melissa about her son Jacob, who is now four years old.
A right ventricle should pump blood to the lungs while a left ventricle pumps to the rest of the body. Instead, Jacob had one ventricle doing both jobs.
About one in 100,000 children is born with this type of heart malfunction, says Dr. Henry Wiles, chief of pediatric cardiology at MCGHealth Children’s Medical Center.
“It’s quite complex,” explains Dr. Wiles. “Jacob had half of a functioning heart, with one pumping chamber instead of two. His red and blue blood was being pumped out as a mixture.