• Cardiology Patient Stories

    Putting Kieran’s Heart Back Where it Belongs

Baby Kieran is health today thanks to pediatric heart surgery at Mayo Clinic.Caitlin Veitz never takes for granted just how special her daughter Kieran is. “She’s laid back, happy, wonderful,” Caitlin says.

The circumstances around her birth, however, were not as serene.

At her 20-week ultrasound, Caitlin learned her baby's heart was not where it was supposed to be and that it had developed outside of the chest wall. The condition, called ectopia cordis, is "one of the, if not the, most rare congenital heart defects,” according to Joseph Dearani, M.D., a Mayo Clinic pediatric cardiac surgeon.

“We didn’t have any idea that anything like that could happen," says Caitlin. "It was scary. The odds were stacked against her.” 

While congenital heart problems are the most common structural birth defect, affecting about 1 in 100 children, Kieran's condition is incredibly uncommon. It’s also uncommon for children to survive it — unless, the stars align perfectly. In Kieran's case, the stars, and a team of about 60 doctors and nurses did align to give her and mom the care they needed.

Kieran would need very complex, highly specialized surgery to survive. “The only chance you have of treating this successfully is having an integrated approach where you can gather experts,” says Dr. Dearani.

Learn how that integrated team came together, with some help from Mayo Clinic’s 3D anatomic modeling lab, to create a success story you can wrap your arms around in the Mayo Clinic News Network video below.