Heart surgeons at Dell Children's repair baby's heart with three surgeries | Ascension
Laverne Goffney sitting next to her baby boy playing with a toy

Heart surgeons at Dell Children's repair baby's heart with three surgeries


Austin family finds comfort from Dell Children’s Medical Center fetal cardiac program that repaired their son’s heart with three surgeries.

During Laverne Goffney's five-month visit to her OB-GYN, it was revealed on her ultrasound that her unborn son, Alex, had a heart condition. Her baby had a single ventricle congenital heart defect that affected his oxygen levels. She learned he would need three heart surgeries before his first birthday.

Many thoughts came to Laverne's mind as she tried to process the diagnosis. "I was trying to understand where this came from. Is this hereditary? I was just shocked and nervous, and I just want to get more answers on what is to come with a baby who has a heart defect," she said. "To hear that a baby would need heart surgery, it's unbelievable even to know that they can operate on a person that small."

Laverne was referred to a team of nationally recognized and experienced pediatric cardiovascular specialists at Dell Children's Medical Center Comprehensive Fetal Care Center in Austin, Texas. Her baby would be cared for by this team immediately after she gave birth. In their first meeting, the team answered her questions and she learned more about her baby's heart condition, the surgery to repair it, and everything she needed to know to prepare herself mentally and emotionally for the procedure. "Dell [Children’s] gave me pretty much a heads-up on what all we would be going through, and gave me that trust, that confidence, that they would take the best of care of Alex as much as possible," she said.

The day arrived for her to give birth by C-section, but once Alex was born, Laverne got to see him briefly before being transported to Dell Children's Medical Center. "I did not get a chance to hold Alex like a lot of mothers get a chance to hold their child," she said. 

Although she would have to wait to hold Alex, she was comforted that her husband was with their newborn at Dell Children's while she healed from her surgery. "My husband was able to video chat me so that I could see Alex every chance that I got. Because, of course, I was not there with him," she said. 

Once Laverne was released from the hospital, she went to Alex's bedside. Alex’s heart care team reassured her and her husband every step of the way. "They just made me feel comfortable that Alex would be OK and he was in the best of care," Laverne said. 

After Alex's surgery, Laverne waited for him to get better and stronger. Each day and each week, she saw improvement. More equipment was being removed from his body. Doctors gave him less medication and more oxygen flowing through his body. 

Having care close to home made it easier for her to be with her child. "We were extremely thankful that we did not have to travel anywhere else, and we could get the proper care at Dell Children's Medical Center to help Alex and his condition," Laverne said.

She was ready to take her baby home.

Alex's surgeries are now completed, and Laverne is amazed by the energy he has. "He is doing phenomenal. He is big. Alex is just all over the place," she said. "He's always been a happy baby, but now he’s even happier, and he is just a ball full of joy.

Specialized fetal heart care close to home

At Dell Children's Medical Center Comprehensive Fetal Care Center, you are connected to nationally recognized doctors who diagnose, treat and manage care for babies with even the most rare and complex congenital and fetal conditions. The center is a collaboration between Dell Children's Medical Center and UT Health Austin that provides you with a team of highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research and technology. Find out more about Comprehensive Fetal Care Center delivery options by calling 512-324-0040.