HOUSTON — Kingston Murriel, 9, was born with a small heart.
He was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means his left ventricle was too small. As a result, the Mississippi boy has gone back and forth to Houston his whole life for treatment.
Many children born with the condition end up needing a heart transplant.
“We explained to Kingston that he has a small heart. We explained his single ventricle, but what made his case so unique was it was growing. It was getting bigger like the Grinch,” said Elizabeth Foster, his mother.
Dr. Jorge Salazar is Kingston’s surgeon at Memorial Hermann Hospital.
“We were thinking outside the box. What we did is we tricked the heart into growing. The way we did that is we improved the blood flow to the left ventricle,” said Salazar, Co-Director of the Children’s Heart Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann and UTHealth. He is also Chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston.
It took five surgeries and a lot of patience, but the idea worked. The third-grader underwent his final surgery this month. Doctors say his heart is now perfectly normal. He’s able to spend Christmas at home in Mississippi.
“Normal is a big word. I’m very happy to say normal, because it means he has a normal future, and a normal lifespan. He’s like any other child,” said Dr. Salazar.
The Grinch story helped Kingston and his friends understand his scars and absences from school.
“More importantly, we told him – whether your heart is small or big – we still need to love big. We had to make a life lesson out of this,” said his mom.