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Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Saves Newborn Considered ‘Inoperable’

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It’s what Sarah Lemons had been waiting to hear for six long weeks.

“It was hard, it was very depressing.”

The Missouri mother can finally take her newborn home.

“Makes me so happy that my baby’s here with me, that I can hold and cuddle him and not be planning his funeral,” she said.

Lemons is still emotional thinking about all the rejection she’s endured, including four high-risk congenital heart transfer hospitals that denied her son Calvin life-saving surgery.

She never gave up.

“If they can operate on other babies, why not Calvin? Why not give him a chance?” she asked.

Calvin was born with an extremely rare heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The left side of his heart was severely under-developed. Doctors say it essentially means he was born with half a heart.

His case was even more complicated because he also had defective veins in his heart and had suffered a stroke in his young life.

Lemons took the fight for her son to social media where someone told her to contact Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.

Calvin’s case was accepted after everyone told her “your baby is inoperable.”

“We hate that word here. We felt like we could find a way,” said Dr. Redmond Burke.

Burke and his team performed the complex procedure on a very tiny person, one of the highest-risk patients they’d ever taken on.

“We rebuilt his heart in a five-hour operation and he survived it,” Dr. Burke said.

Lemons says throughout her pregnancy, Calvin’s condition was never caught. It wasn’t until after she’d delivered and he stopped breathing that tests revealed the problem.

Lemons believes doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital did more than fix Calvin’s heart. They also saved hers.

“My heart stops every time I think about it. I just want to sit and cry, then I remember how powerful prayer is and that my baby is here today because of me and Dr. Burke.”

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