Congenital Heart Disease: Domenico’s Patient Story

At Stephanie Hernandez’s routine 22-week pregnancy ultrasound, doctors noticed an abnormality in baby Domenico's heart. She was immediately referred our pediatric cardiologist Dr. Ginnie Abarbanell, chief of pediatric cardiology at UT Health San Antonio and University Health. 

"We were saddened and worried with the news, but everyone was very comforting, assuring us they were going to do their best," Stephanie recalls. As a University Health employee, dad Daniel Hernandez knew they were in the right place to care for mom and baby.

When Domenico was born, his congenital heart diagnosis was confirmed. He had transposition of the great arteries, two holes in his heart, an underdeveloped valve and pulmonary stenosis – a rare combination of defects. After carefully monitoring Domenico, Dr. Ginnie Abarbanell determined he was too small for such a risky surgery, and that it would be wise to wait for him to gain strength.

Domenico’s progress slowed when he contracted COVID-19 and had to spend a week in the intensive care unit. He later contracted RSV and spent an additional week in the ICU. Domenico finally overcame his respiratory issues and was cleared for heart surgery on March 27, 2023. While the surgery was complex, it was successful, and Domenico recovered in less than three weeks.

“Dr. Ginnie Abarbanell, Dr. Aaron Abarbanell and Dr. John Calhoon always made us feel special,” Stephanie said. “We’re eternally grateful to our University Health medical team. Everyone has been amazing! They all have a special place in our hearts.”

Domenico is now 18 months old and thriving. He is bubbly and loving and stays active by playing with toy cars and keeping up with his 4-year-old brother and 18-year-old sister. “Hearing that Domenico will go through life with congenital heart disease is scary, but with prayer and the care of our medical team, he will persevere,” Stephanie said.

Congenital Heart Care at University Health

Read more about our Congenital Heart Center on our website.

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