Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR): Naabaahii's Story

Brianna Vasquez knew immediately after giving birth to her son Naabaahii that something was wrong. “When they placed him on my stomach, the first thing I asked them was why he was blue. Once I asked, they took him right away and started working on him.”

Airlift to University Hospital

Naabaahii’s body wasn’t getting enough oxygen. That night, he was airlifted to University Hospital, two and a half hours away from his mother, who was still hospitalized after giving birth. 

“The pediatric doctor at our hospital (in Del Rio) referred him to University Hospital,” Brianna said. “She mentioned she had some amazing colleagues over there and that she wouldn’t trust anyone else.”

Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR) Diagnosis and Treatment

Naabaahii was admitted and stabilized overnight in the University Hospital NICU and seen by the pediatric cardiology team. That morning, the pediatric heart surgery team at University Hospital called Brianna to inform her that Naabaahii had a heart condition called total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR). Naabaahii needed emergency open heart surgery. “I was devastated. I was scared out of my mind,” Brianna recalls.  

Naabaahii’s heart surgeon knew this was incredibly difficult news for his parents, who were still in Del Rio. He assured the parents that the team would take care of their son like their own family member. 

The Congenital Heart Center team (pediatric cardiologists, hearts surgeons, intensivists, anesthesiologists and operating room team) mobilized immediately.   

Brianna was discharged from the hospital in Del Rio and drove to University Hospital to be there when Naabaahii got out of surgery. The surgery went perfectly, and his body was received the oxygen it needed.

Recovery & Going Home

“He is Diné (Navajo) and his name means ‘warrior’ in Navajo. And sure enough he passed all of his tests in the hospital and showed us all that he is definitely a warrior,” Brianna said.

Naabaahii had surgery at only a few hours old. After 14 days recovering in the pediatric critical care unit (PCCU), he got to go home. “He came home a couple of days before Thanksgiving and has been thriving since,” Brianna said.

Once he was home, Naabaahii needed special care as healed from surgery. His care team taught his family how to hold him, feed him and give him his medications. Today, he’s doing so well that you wouldn’t even know he had surgery. 

“All he does is smile,” Brianna said. “He’s a very happy and healthy baby. He’s been meeting all of his milestones. He has five other siblings, and they’re all extremely happy to have him here with us.”

Brianna has advice for other parents with babies with heart conditions. “It definitely makes me not take things for granted,” she said. “It also gets easier. Read up about it, do your best, and don’t worry so much. Take it day by day and you’ll get through it.”

Brianna is thankful to the Congenital Heart Center team at University Health for treating Naabaahii and herself with kindness and compassion. 

While visiting her son in the hospital, Brianna was admitted for two days with undiagnosed preeclampsia. “My son’s doctor (sic. pediatric heart surgeon) would come downstairs just to update me on how he was doing. For a doctor to go out of their way to do that is just amazing,” Brianna said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have my sweet boy. I will forever be thankful.”

Pediatric Heart Care at University Health

Learn more about the nationally recognized pediatric heart care at University Health.

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