When he was 6 months old, Kaiden Richards started presenting symptoms of Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart condition that affects normal blood flow through the heart. Without corrective heart surgery, people with Tetralogy of Fallot develop severe complications, which can eventually result in long-term disability or death. Correcting this defect requires expert medical and surgical care. 

Kaiden was unable to get the surgical care he needed in his home country of Barbados due to limited access caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. So the Children’s Heart Institute team at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach partnered with World Pediatric Project to bring a now 3-year-old Kaiden to the U.S. for life-changing cardiac surgery.

The mission of the World Pediatric Project is to heal children and advance pediatric health care around the world. This is the third time that Miller Children’s & Women’s has collaborated with the organization to bring children from less developed countries directly to its doctors for life-saving treatments they would otherwise not be able to receive.

Once Kaiden, his mother and aunt arrived in Long Beach, his care was overseen by pediatric cardiologists, Dr. Saar Danon and Dr. Babak Rahimi, who collaborated with congenital heart surgeon, Dr. Shaun Setty, on his treatment plan.

“Kaiden had a very favorable presurgical evaluation and was expected to have a great surgical outcome and recovery, which he did,” says Dr. Rahimi.

Before surgery, Kaiden was cyanotic, meaning he had a deficiency in the oxygenation of his blood. His oxygen saturation was only about 80%, which made him tire easily and unable to keep up with other kids. Post-surgery, Kaiden was full of energy and dancing non-stop.

Kaiden’s mother expressed how surprised she was at the amount of energy Kaiden had immediately after surgery. She joked with Dr. Rahimi saying, “You didn’t warn me about how active he is going to be.”

Following surgery, Kaiden recovered in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Miller Children’s & Women’s under the supervision of pediatric cardiac critical care specialist, Dr. Constantinos Chrysostomou. This unit has a dedicated team of physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who specialize in pediatric cardiology to help meet the unique needs of patients with heart disease.  

Once Kaiden was discharged from the hospital, he began his follow-up care with the cardiology team at the Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village, which is located on the Miller Children’s & Women’s campus. After two short weeks, Kaiden was cleared to return home to Barbados.

“Our goal at the Children’s Heart Institute is to see children everywhere grow up to be healthy and heart strong,” says Dr. Rahimi. Through our partnership with the World Pediatric Project, we’re able help children and families in need, expand our impact beyond our own local communities, and bring advanced pediatric healthcare to areas in the world that lack these vital capabilities.”