Baby’s Cleveland Clinic heart surgery story could save lives

CLEVELAND (WJW) — Adaya Robinson won’t remember a single thing from the most important moment of her life. However, her mom, Christen, will never forget it.

“The [doctor] literally told me I could transplant my baby, or I could hold my baby,” Christen told FOX 8 News. 

Christen said she decided to put all of her trust in the medical team at the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Adaya was saved at birth, but her heart was still in bad shape. At almost every hospital in the world, the only option left was to hope for a heart transplant.

Luckily, this is where we meet Dr. Hani Najm, who was confident he could accomplish something never done before.

“We have to intervene very quickly, otherwise there was very little chance of her survival,” Dr. Najm said. 

The longtime surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic knew he had to innovate to keep Adaya alive. So instead of hoping for a new heart to come, he went into surgery in January to fix the issue himself, by adding another graft, or shunt from the aorta to the transcatheter valve. 

This idea had never been performed before, but Dr. Najm was convinced it would work.

“I’ve done way more complex surgeries than this. It’s the concept that is the new thing. The outcome is also a new thing, the predictability of it,” Najm said.

It was a bold move, but the right move to make.  Not only did the surgery save Adaya’s life, but it also prevented her from needing a new heart in the future.

“When he said those words, it was just the best feeling I have ever felt,” Christen explained. 

Adaya just celebrated her first birthday in July, happy and healthy. Her heart is doing great. 

“I used to think I was a strong person, but this is the strongest person I know,” Christen said. 

Adaya’s story could also save lives.

“If you look at the concept, it makes absolute sense. And you wonder why it’s not the standard for this therapy,” Dr. Najm said. 


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