Saving Liam's Heart with Pulmonary Artery Banding

  • Nov 28

Saving Liam’s Heart with Pulmonary Artery Banding

Agatha Christie once said, “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity. It dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.”  Truly a mother’s love knows no boundaries. As living proof, Nessa Arceo demonstrated the strength and braveness of a mother as she hurdled her infant son’s heart disease.

On September 1, 2021, Nessa, a clinic management supervisor of De Los Santos Medical Center (DLSMC), tested positive on her routine RT-PCR test. She was admitted for a week and was diagnosed as having moderate to high risk COVID-19 with pneumonia. During this time, she was 34 weeks pregnant.

Two weeks later, on September 16, 2021, Nessa gave birth to a baby boy, Liam Michael Arceo, via normal delivery. All seemed fine with her little bundle of joy until a frightening incident two months later.   

While she was feeding Liam, he suddenly cried until he turned red and became cold as ice. As she rushed him to the emergency room of DLSMC, she noticed that Liam’s breathing was labored. She started giving CPR to her son. At the hospital, Liam was immediately admitted and initially diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, but Liam’s X-ray revealed that he had an enlarged heart. 

Liam’s pulmonologist, Dr. Marion Sanchez, transferred him to the ICU and referred him to Dr. Louisa Joan Go, a pediatric interventional cardiologist of DLSMC’s Congenital and Structural Heart Unit.

After conducting a 2D Echo, Dr. Go explained to Nessa and her husband, Paul, that although Liam was only two months old, his heart was the size of that of a two-year-old child. He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscles become weakened and enlarged, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body. Liam was also noted to have experienced several episodes of seizures due to his low cardiac output. Because Nessa had COVID-19 during her pregnancy, the infection may have crossed over to her placenta, affecting her baby.

They first started giving medicines to fix the strength and contractility of Liam’s heart, but sadly, these did not work. Thus, surgery was scheduled.

Liam underwent pulmonary artery banding on November 29, 2021. The minimally invasive procedure involved putting a small band around the pulmonary artery and tightening it like a drawstring to control blood flow to the lungs. This is usually a novel procedure for patients with dilated cardiomyopathy who would otherwise need heart transplant.

Although Liam acquired pneumonia during his recovery period, the operation was considered successful overall. His final diagnosis was dilated cardiomyopathy secondary to viral myocarditis.

On December 14 -- two weeks after the operation -- Liam was discharged from DLSMC to continue his recovery at home. Medications were continued for his heart, with continuous follow-up checkups.

On his first post-op 2D Echo, Liam’s heart condition greatly improved, with strength of contraction (Ejection function) increasing from 10% to 39%.

According to Dr. Go, pulmonary artery bands are usually removed before infants turn a year old, but in some cases, it is removed later at 3 or 4 years old, depending on the child’s case. Liam’s band could be removed by August 2022.

Everytime na nawawalan ng oxygen or bumababa ang oxygen ni Liam, hinahawakan ko na yung rosaryo ko at magdadasal (Every time he lost oxygen or his oxygen was getting low, I just hold my rosary and pray),” Nessa confesses. She said that faith was her and her family’s main source of strength and hope.

Nessa shared her appreciation to DLSMC on how the hospital helped her family, especially Baby Liam. They went the extra mile assisting the Arceo family. In her opinion, it was an affordable yet quality operation. She commended the medical staff and doctors who gave her family a positive energy and assured her of a positive outcome. She recalled Dr. Go assuringly saying, “Ilalaban ko si Liam dahil lumalaban si Liam. (I will fight for Liam because he showed me that he was fighting for his life).”

Nessa advises parents to always check their children’s health because early detection is important in protecting a child from sickness.

Today, Liam has greatly improved his quality of life, having reached all of a baby’s milestones for his tender age. He has become active and no longer has issues with his feeding.

According to Dr. Go, “At DLSMC, we aim to provide quality, innovative care to our patients. For dilated cardiomyopathy, the outlook is poor without transplant but through novel strategies we aim to improve outcomes for this subset of patients.

For inquiries on congenital heart diseases or to schedule an appointment, contact the Congenital and Structural Heart Unit at 889-DLSMC (35762) ext. 8143 or email productinfo@dlsmc.ph.  

Liam prior his operation
Liam prior his operation

Nessa Arceo and her son Liam at the ICU during his admission

Liam is all healthy and smiling after his operation