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SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital

Passeig Sant Joan de Déu, 2, 08950 Esplugues de Llobregat

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From Shanghai to Barcelona for her baby’s heart surgery

Kenza with her mother at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital

Kenza's family travelled from China so the 4-month-old could get an operation at the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital.

Kenza was born in September 2023 in a Shanghai hospital, where she was diagnosed with a ‘hole’ in her heart. Doctors recommended check-ups every 3 months to monitor the situation. After the first check-up, physicians concluded that the young girl would need an operation, as the hole was not closing on its own.

After requesting a second opinion at several other hospitals around the world, the family decided that the best thing for Kenza would be to operate before any other heart problems arose. Kenza's mother Pamela notes that "the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital responded to us very quickly, and we had a video consultation with the surgeon, who answered all of our questions. This helped us make the decision quickly, and the following week, we were already on a flight from Shanghai to Barcelona".

The family shared that when they arrived at the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital, their case manager had already prepared an appointment schedule detailing the treating teams and the tests that would be carried out, and then they were introduced to the spiritual support team. In just 5 days, Kenza had her operation.

Dr Stefano Congiu, Head of the Pediatric Cardiology Department, says that "Kenza was diagnosed with a subpulmonic atrial and ventricular septal defect, measuring around 7 or 8 millimetres. Intracardiac defects cause an increase in blood flow and pressure within the heart, which then has to work harder, and this can lead to problems later down the line. During the operation, the defects were repaired by fitting a patch, returning correct blood flow to the heart and, therefore, restoring normal function".
Kenza's mother is immensely grateful for the surgeon's time and attention: all of her questions were answered in fine detail, giving her the peace of mind and confidence that her daughter was in good hands.

The operation lasted for four hours, with Kenza being admitted the PICU for two days afterwards. The family is grateful that they could be by Kenza’s side every step of the way. A few hours after the operation, breathing support was removed and Kenza was able to breathe on her own. The process moved very quickly, with Kenza being transferred to a private room on the ward on day 3, and less than a week later, she was already at home. The family returned to SJD for Kenza's follow-up appointments, and thankfully, everything progressed very well. In less than two weeks, Kenza was discharged and was able to return to China.

Kenza’s mother Pamela told us that what she liked most about the SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital was the speed at which care was provided, the human touch, and the support provided throughout the entire process. "We have felt extremely well looked after, even down to the smallest details. For example, before the operation, a member of Child Life was with Kenza so she could familiarise herself with everything, with things in the theatre, her mask, so she had someone to play with… that made it so much less traumatic for her in the post-operation period".