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New heart procedure saves Mesa micro-preemie twins

The less invasive procedure keeps preemies from undergoing open-heart surgery.

MESA, Ariz. — Identical two-month-old twins Carter and Garrett Lopez came into the world in a hurry.

“My water broke, and it was pretty shocking at 27 weeks,” said Nicole Lopez, the twins' mother.

Born in December, Lopez says the twins weren’t even expected until the end of March. They were tiny and were considered micro-preemies, with Garrett weighing 2 pounds, 2 ounces and Carter weighing 2 pounds, 4 ounces.

“When the nurse brought them over to me, Garrett fit into her two hands,” said Lopez.

The babies were also born with a heart condition called PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosus), which involves an opening between blood vessels that normally closes on its own after birth, but theirs did not.

“If the PDA doesn’t close, then it puts extra work on the lungs and on the heart. In a premature baby, it can damage the lungs if it’s left long term,” said Dr. Dan Miga, a pediatric cardiologist at Banner Children’s at Desert.

Miga did a procedure on the twins called Abbott's Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder. It typically is only available to older children.

He delivered a device through the artery from the leg to the heart and implanted it to correct the problem.

It’s a much less invasive procedure that’s only been available to preemies for two years. The other option would have been open chest surgery.

“Basically, no incision. No stitches. Literally no scar. By the next morning, you can’t tell we’ve been there,” said Miga.

Mom says the twins are doing well and close to breathing on their own. Doctors say the twins will be monitored but shouldn’t have any further heart issues as they grow up.

“It’s just amazing how quickly they’ve been able to heal from it,” said Lopez.

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