Congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect, affecting about 40,000 babies born each year in the United States.
A congenital heart defect (CHD) is a problem with the heart’s structure, and treatment for infants and children can range from none at all to multiple open-heart surgeries or even a heart transplant. About 25% of babies with CHD have the most serious kind, which generally requires surgery or other procedures in their first year of life, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Despite the complexity of these cases, with the right care most of the babies not only survive but thrive, living active lives to the fullest, says Dr. Damien LaPar, director of the Complex Pulmonary Artery Reconstruction Program at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and director of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgery Services at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.
“Just a few decades ago, babies born with serious congenital heart defects were unable to have successful surgical repair,” says Dr. LaPar. “But with advances in surgical techniques and technology, critical care and management, we are now in a much more advantageous position to offer babies and children successful repair and recovery.”
Dr. LaPar says it brings him great joy to see the vulnerable babies he operates on grow and flourish.
“My dedication to pediatric and congenital heart surgery is deeply rooted in my desire to advance the treatment of congenital heart disease and to make a lasting difference in the lives of children and their families,” says Dr. LaPar, who is also an assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and an adjunct assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.