Mateo’s Story: Hope and Triumph After Successful PDA Closure for a Congenital Heart Defect

mateo as a newborn

Cindy Cisneros and her husband, Roberto, faced a long and heart-wrenching struggle on their path to parenthood. For 12 years, they grappled with the overwhelming desire to have a child. The journey was fraught with disappointment and heartbreak until, against all odds, Cindy discovered she was pregnant.

“The news came as a total shock,” said Cindy. “We tried for a long time to have a baby and it never happened. So, it took us by surprise. We were happy and nervous at the same time.”

The moment Cindy found out she was pregnant was a memorable one. Roberto had just returned home from his job as a truck driver, a profession that often kept him away from home for extended periods. Cindy had been feeling tired and had missed her period. After buying a pregnancy test, she decided to take the test in the store’s restroom. Initially, the result came back negative, but the next morning, she took three more tests to be sure, and all were positive.

A long and challenging pregnancy

Cindy’s happiness at the news of her pregnancy was tinged with nervousness and fear. She had faced difficulties throughout her pregnancy, starting with severe headaches and nausea. Her journey became more challenging when she started experiencing episodes of heavy bleeding, beginning in the second month of her pregnancy. Nonetheless, her baby’s ultrasounds were normal. The heart showed no anomalies, and her baby was growing and developing like he should.

Living in Laredo, Texas, Cindy sought medical attention from her OB-GYN, who advised her to take a break from work and rest. However, the bleeding persisted, leading her to visit the emergency room multiple times.

“The doctor dismissed my concerns and reiterated the need for rest,” said Cindy. “So, I took time off from work and spent most of my time in bed. But I knew something wasn’t right.”

As Cindy entered her third trimester, the situation took a dire turn. At just 23 weeks into her pregnancy, she began experiencing cramps and realized her water broke. She was rushed to the hospital but Roberto was miles away in New York, making a race against time to be by her side.

Roberto was able to make it to the hospital just in time for their son’s birth. On April 21, 2023, at just 23 weeks gestation, Cindy gave birth to Mateo via emergency C-section. Born at only 1 pound, 8 ounces, Mateo did not cry immediately and was swiftly transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). He was placed on a ventilator because he had difficulty breathing.

Mateo’s health struggles

The days following Mateo’s birth were filled with uncertainty and worry. Doctors informed Cindy and Roberto that Mateo had a congenital heart defect known as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital heart defect common in premature infants. PDA occurs when the opening between the two blood vessels (the aorta and pulmonary artery) leading from the heart, fails to close shortly after birth. If the opening does not close properly, the extra blood can lead to fluid buildup in the lungs making it difficult for babies to breathe.

“Mateo was in the hospital in Laredo for a month,” said Cindy. “They administered medications to close the PDA, but nothing seemed to work. Doctors told me they would have to transport him to CHRISTUS Children’s in San Antonio for more specialized care and treatment.”

Mateo, a month old, was sent via helicopter to the Level IV NICU at CHRISTUS Children’s. The doctors and nurses monitored his condition, and at 2 months of age, Mateo had a PDA closure.

On June 9, 2023, Dr. Saleem Almasarweh performed the closure using an Aplatzer PiccoloTM Occluder. The Piccolo device is a self-expanding, wire mesh implant that is introduced via a minimally invasive incision in the leg. It is then carefully navigated through the blood vessels until it reaches the heart, where its primary function is to close the opening in the heart.

Road to recovery

Mateo’s time at CHRISTUS Children’s was marked by a dedicated care team who kept Cindy informed about her baby’s heart condition at every stage, especially during times when she and Roberto couldn’t be with their son continuously. Following the closure of his PDA, Mateo began showing signs of improvement, including improved breathing and the removal of the ventilator.

“Mateo’s doctors and nurses were wonderful,” said Cindy. “They answered all my questions and addressed my worries. They met our needs and made sure my baby and I were comfortable.”

Though Mateo’s journey was far from easy, he spent a total of 111 days in the NICU, including the time in Laredo and San Antonio. By the time he left CHRISTUS Children’s, he was able to breathe without any support and gain weight. Through it all, Cindy and Roberto’s unwavering love and the exceptional care their son received played a pivotal role in their son’s recovery.

A bright future for Mateo

mateo smiling

Today, 5-month-old Mateo is a thriving and happy 9-pound baby. Cindy says he has his moments, especially when he’s hungry, but he is gaining weight and growing as expected. Cindy and Roberto are relieved to see their son doing so well, considering his rocky start in life.

Mateo continues to be monitored by his pediatrician and cardiologist in Laredo to ensure his heart remains healthy. The journey to parenthood was challenging for the Cisneros’ but their determination and love brought them the greatest gift of all: their precious son, Mateo.

“We are happy to be parents to our son,” said Cindy. “It was a long wait – but worth it.”

CHRISTUS Children’s provides innovative care to children of all ages. To learn more about pediatric cardiology specialists, visit the Heart Center. For more information about the Level IV NICU at CHRISTUS Children’s, visit NICU | Highly-Specialized Neonatal Care | CHRISTUS Health.

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