Baby born with same heart defect as Kimmel's son gets local treatment

Kimmel has received support, backlash after video
Posted at 10:06 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 12:27:04-04

DENVER -- Parents of a little girl born with the same congenital heart defect as Jimmy Kimmel's son are speaking out about their experience, saying they understand what the T.V. host is going through following his impassioned monologue earlier this week. 

Manuel Figueroa and Olga Guzman had just found out their baby was a girl, but that excitement faded quickly after finding out she was coming into this world already facing some tough challenges.

"It's hard when you have everything set up for your baby at home and you're not able to bring it home," said Figueroa. "The doctor's assistant was doing the ultrasound and then she said let me call the doctor."

Cardiologists at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children confirmed that the baby, Olivia, had Tetralogy of Fallot. Essentially, a hole in her little heart was decreasing oxygen to her body, slowing her growth in the womb.

Dr. Leonard, a Rocky Mountain Pediatric Heart Surgeon, explained to Denver7 other signs that can appear in the fetus when the condition is present.

"So their finger nails, toe nails, sometimes their nose, their lips -- can be blue," said Leonard.

Because she was born eight weeks early, she only weighed a pound and a half. Leonard would have to wait to operate on her until after she gained a few pounds.

"When you hear open heart surgery and the baby that is premature, three pounds and a half, it was really scary," said Guzman.

The heart defect is so rare hardly anyone had heard about it until Jimmy Kimmel spoke about it on his late night show.

"That's exactly what we went through. When he described how it feels when you get that news, we feel that. We were crying when he was crying on his video,” said the couple.

Kimmel's scary experience could help doctors by bringing awareness. Leonard described the reactions he was getting from people.

He said people were coming up to him saying, "I didn't realize that so many babies are born with heart defects until they are one of those families and are put in a position that the Kimmel family is in."

Olivia is now 14-months-old and growing quickly after two surgeries later and 141 days in the hospital. Her family celebrates every pound she gains.

"She has a normal heart now and basically she can do any type of sports or whatever she wants to do," said Figueroa.

For more information about the Rocky Mountain Pediatric Heart Surgery Center visit their website

For more information about the congenital heart disease Tetralogy of Fallot visit this American Heart Association's website.

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