Corpus Christi mother hopes Houston hospital can help her unborn baby who has a half a heart

Mayra Moreno Image
Friday, February 24, 2023
Corpus Christi mother hopes Houston hospital can help her unborn baby who has a half a heart
A Corpus Christi family's unborn baby has a birth defect in which only half of his heart is developing. Now, his mom must travel to Houston for her baby's surgeries.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (KTRK) -- A Corpus Christi family is going through a big battle. Soon, the mother will be traveling to Houston to give birth to her son who, right now, only has half his heart.

The couple says this is something they never imagined, but they are ready to do whatever it takes for baby Juan Manuel Rivera Jr.

"I'm going to be gone for six months," Alexis Rivera said. "I feel bad having to go by myself and leave them."

It's a tough reality for the Rivera family. Alexis is packing a few bags and mentally preparing herself for what's to come.

"I see it's strengthening the family, getting us closer, and for some reason God gave us that," the father, Juan Rivera, said.

Just recently, the couple sat their three young children down to have a tough conversation. Their baby brother, still in their mother's womb, will need extra care soon, and it would have to be done in Houston for quite some time.

"It hit us out of nowhere. It hurt real bad," the dad said.

It was during their 20-week scan that doctors noticed something was wrong with the baby's heart. As experts weighed in, they received news of something they had never heard of before.

"They confirmed that they were seeing half of his heart," Alexis said. "He has hypoplastic left heart syndrome."

According to the CDC, the syndrome is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. As the baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly.

"His heartbeat has stayed strong. He's going to pull through. He's a fighter in the womb," Alexis said.

In order to give the baby a chance at life, he would need three surgeries at Texas Children's Hospital before the age of 5.

"When he is born, he is going to have his first surgery, most likely the first week of life," the mom said. "The second surgery would be four to six months after."

Alexis will need to take an extended unpaid leave from work, and her husband will have to traveling back and forth a lot with their three kids. The family started a GoFundMe page to help pay for the long journey ahead.

"It's hard because people go through battles later in life, and before he's born, he has to fight. We are going to walk with him the whole way," the mom said.