Baby Seth to Have Surgery Thursday

Doctors to replace boy's heart shunt in advance of "experimental" procedure

By Jennifer Bisceglie
|  Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011  |  Updated 5:10 PM CDT
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A Dyer, <a title=Ind., baby will soon undergo the first of several surgeries aimed at saving his life since the costs for his care were covered." />

A Dyer, Ind., baby will soon undergo the first of several surgeries aimed at saving his life since the costs for his care were covered.

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A Dyer, Ind., baby will soon undergo the first of several surgeries aimed at saving his life since the costs for his care were covered.

Doctors at Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn on Thursday will replace the shunt in Seth Petreikis' heart, according to a Facebook page setup to chronicle the boy's progress.

"They are planning on going through his side to replace his shunt. I am praying that they will be able to do this. Recovery time should be quicker this way," wrote the boy's mother, Becky Petreikis.

Shortly after the 5-month-old was born, he was diagnosed with Complete DiGeorge Syndrome, a rare and fatal condition which inhibits the body's immune system.  To give the boy a chance at life, he needs a thymus transplant, and a doctor at Duke Hospital in North Carolina is the only physician in the nation who performs the procedure. 

Without the surgery, doctors said the boy wouldn't likely make it to his second birthday.

The expensive surgeries were initially denied by the family's insurance company, which deemed the procedures "experimental."  But after days of media coverage, a not-for-profit organization agreed to pay for his care

MDwise medical director Dr. Caroline Carney Doebbeling, said she reviewed the clinical trials performed at Duke University and liked what she saw.

"It's a rare condition and this procedure has been very successful in the clinical trial and compels us to give this baby a chance," she said last month.

Once Seth Petreikis recovers from Thursday's surgery, his parents will be able to travel with him to Duke University for the thymus transplant.

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