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Newborn survives heart failure at Children's Health

Baby Isaac Carrera with his mother, Amanda, father, Ivan, sister, Sofia, and brother, Ivan Jr.
Isaac Carrera, Two months old in his room on C8.
Isaac Carrera, Two months old in his room on C8.
Baby Isaac Carrera with his mother, Amanda, father, Ivan, sister, Sofia, and brother, Ivan Jr. | Image courtesy of Amanda Carrera

11 days into 2018, parents Amanda and Ivan Carerra welcomed their third child, Isaac, having delivered him safely in El Paso, Texas. During the first few days of his life, Isaac behaved like a normal baby; eating, nursing, and doing all of the things newborns do. However, a couple of days after bringing baby Isaac home, Amanda and Ivan begin to notice some strange behaviors.

“He was a little bit sleepy,” Amanda said. “I thought he had a fever, so I called the pediatrician. They said he might be bundled up a little bit too much, and just to unwrap him from the blankets.”

A week after his birth, Amanda and Ivan brought Isaac in for his circumcision, when they noticed one of the first of many red flags.

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“He slept through the entire procedure,” Amanda said, “which was a big warning sign, because our older son had the same procedure, and he remained awake.”

By day 11, Isaac had been exhibiting more boisterous, rambunctious behaviors, and more people began to notice.

”I was getting ready to go to my OB/GYN appointment and I noticed he was fussy when I put him in the car,” Amanda said. “He hadn’t eaten much the night before, so I figured he was hungry. When we got to the doctor’s office, he didn’t want to eat. He just wanted to be held. The doctor saw him and asked ‘Is he okay? He looks kind of pale.’ And I said ‘I don’t know, he hasn’t been eating very well,’ and I didn’t really think much of it at the time.”

The doctor initially brushed it off, citing the fact that the parents’ light complexion may be the reason why Isaac’s skin appeared pale.

“When we got home, he just didn’t seem right,” Amanda said, “so I told my husband, ‘I’m going to take him in.’”

Amanda noticed that Isaac’s temperature had dropped to 97 degrees, prompting her to drive Isaac 15 minutes to the nearest emergency room.

“I told them ‘I have an 11-day-old baby, his temperature dropped, and I can’t make it go back up,'” Amanda said. “I thought they were just going to take him into the NICU and put him in a warmer.”

After several exams, the doctors concluded there was something wrong with Isaac’s heart. They noted that his left ventricle wasn’t moving, and gathered that he may have an infection. The doctors then called Children’s Medical Center Dallas, who sent their transport team. Within hours, the Carerras were in Dallas.

While in Dallas, Isaac underwent a procedure in which a left ventricular assist device was placed in his heart.

“The doctors began to see improvement within two weeks,” Amanda said.

Following the placement of the LVAD device, Isaac underwent two clamp trials. The team at Children’s Health decided to lower the machine speeds in order for Isaac’s heart to rehabilitate on its own. By the end of the month, the doctors decide to remove Isaac’s LVAD device, as they conclude that Isaac does not need a heart transplant.

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Isaac, for the most part, remained well, until the doctors noticed he had a narrowing aorta. He underwent another surgery, which proved successful. He began to gain weight at a normal rate and was eventually discharged after 89 days of inpatient treatment.

The Carerras stayed in Dallas for three weeks following Isaac’s discharge before returning to El Paso. They eventually decided to relocate to Frisco.

“As parents, we want what’s best for our children,” Ivan said. “El Paso couldn’t offer any level of care that he needed, so we searched for realtors and homes in the area while Isaac was undergoing his procedures.”

Isaac’s diagnoses include ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy, left ventricular failure and repaired coarctation of the aorta. Through Children’s Health, he has been able to receive the care he needs.

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“The team at Children’s is invested in Isaac’s long term wellbeing,” Ivan said. “They went through the trenches with us, and it wasn’t always an easy process, but they went through it with us side-by-side. It was the same team doing rounds in the morning and rounds at night.”

Baby Isaac enjoys spending time with his siblings | Image courtesy of Amanda Carrera

Today, Isaac lives a happy, carefree life, like any other baby. He enjoys playing with his sister, Sofia, and his brother, Ivan Jr.

“You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between him and other kids,” Ivan said. “He’s always happy, and he’s always smiling, and that’s what we want.”

“We feel comfortable and confident,” Amanda said, “with the care he has received at Children’s Health.”