Hopeful Hearts

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.

About the Partnership Between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center

The collaboration between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center brings together medical professionals, medical school learners, and researchers who are all part of the integrated mission of transforming healthcare delivery and redesigning the academic health environment to better serve society. This collaboration allows highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research, diagnostic, and technological developments to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. We collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to provide patients with an unparalleled quality of care. Our experienced healthcare professionals deliver personalized, whole-person care of uncompromising quality and treat each patient as an individual with unique circumstances, priorities, and beliefs. Working directly with you, your care team creates an individualized care plan to help you reach the goals that matter most to you — in the care room and beyond. For more information, call us at 1-833-UT-CARES or request an appointment here.