Lincoln Contrearas’ treatment at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease granted his family optimism for the future
Reviewed by: Rachel Contrearas and Charles D. Fraser, Jr., MD
Written by: Lauren Schneider
When Rachel Contrearas was twenty weeks pregnant, a routine prenatal scan revealed a troubling anatomical defect. Her unborn baby was diagnosed with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries (CCTGA), a rare and complex congenital heart defect in which the two main arteries that carry blood away from the heart (the aorta and the pulmonary artery) are switched.
In a normal heart, the left ventricle pumps oxygenated blood into the aorta, which distributes the oxygenated blood to the entire body, while the right ventricle pumps deoxygenated blood into the pulmonary artery, which carries the deoxygenated blood into the lungs for oxygenation. However, in CCTGA, these ventricles are reversed, meaning the stronger left ventricle pumps blood into the pulmonary artery and to the long, while the weaker right ventricle pumps blood into the aorta and out to the rest of the body.
Rachel recalls the uncertainty she and husband Andrew felt about her child’s future upon learning of his diagnosis. “We were terrified,” shares Rachel. Disappointment soon followed as the family was told that because Lincoln’s left ventricle was too weak, he could not undergo a planned double switch surgery to correct his condition.
Pediatric Heart Care Comes to Town
Rachel first became aware that Charles D. Fraser, Jr., MD, was coming to Dell Children’s Medical Center to establish the Texas Center for Congenital and Pediatric Heart Disease, a clinical partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin, via social media. “I sent the video to everybody in our family, and I was just so excited.”
In May 2021, Dr. Fraser called the family to discuss treatment options and ultimately performed a pulmonary artery band operation on Lincoln. During the procedure, a band is placed around the pulmonary artery to constrict its diameter and create a partial obstruction to reduce the amount of excessive blood flow into the lungs. This also helps redirect some of the blood back to the body’s systemic circulation, allowing for a more balanced flow of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood.
From Heartache to Happiness
Thanks to the care he received at the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, Lincoln now enjoys an active childhood. “He wakes up in the morning with so much energy and he bounces down the stairs every day,” says Rachel.
“95 percent of the people who meet him think there’s nothing wrong,” adds Andrew, noting that the only difference between Lincoln and his peers is that Lincoln gets more tired easily.
According to Rachel, the worry they felt about Lincoln’s future has turned to hope. “I just look forward to him growing up and having a full life.”
To learn more about the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, visit here.