Giovanni R Giovanni's Patient Story

“I really felt like Dr. Walsh truly wanted my son to be healthy. You can feel the difference at Newark Beth.”

After Open-Heart Surgery at 5 Months, the Local Boy is Thriving.

Giovanni Randolph of East Orange was born with severe heart defects that would become deadly as he grew. But today he is a healthy toddler, thanks to open-heart surgery at the Children’s Heart Center at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (NBIMC), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, when he was just 5 months old.

Mom Darata Bailey is grateful for her son’s care, led by Rowan Walsh, MD, pediatric cardiologist at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel and Sunil Malhotra, MD, director of pediatric and adult congenital cardiac surgery at the Children’s Hospital of New Jersey at Newark Beth Israel.

“I really felt like Dr. Walsh truly wanted my son to be healthy,” says Darata. “You can feel the difference at Newark Beth.”

The new mother learned Giovanni had two holes in his heart shortly after he was born December 2, 2015 at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

“I lost it and prayed,” recalls Darata, who was 24 at the time. “Even though I cried I was ready to make sure my baby would be OK. I felt more comfortable after Dr. Walsh provided me with extensive information.”

A Difficult Delay

After Giovanni's birth, the pediatric cardiology team at the Children's Hospital of New Jersey sent him home with medications for several months, to see if the holes in his heart would close on their own -- which they sometimes do.

Meanwhile, Darata’s protective instincts took over, as she kept Giovanni at home and around close relatives only to limit his exposure to germs and illness.

“He was always tired and wanted to rest. When he ate, he would sweat a lot because his little heart was trying to work overtime. This used to really scare me.”

Indeed, one of the holes (called a ventricular septal defect) can allow too much blood into the lungs. This makes the heart pump harder, but it still can’t meet the needs of the body – a condition known congestive heart failure.

Each month, Darata took Giovanni to the Children’s Hospital at Newark Beth, where he saw pediatric cardiologist Rowan Walsh, MD. There, the baby underwent sophisticated tests, including echocardiograms to view images of his heart, and electrocardiograms (EKGs) to check his heart’s electrical activity.

The staff prescribed a special diet to make sure he gained weight. “The chief dietitian said Giovanni had one of the best growth charts she had seen,” notes Darata.

Although he needed the added weight to stay healthy, Giovanni’s growth also forced his heart to work harder. By 3 months old, he was starting to fall behind in the development of certain skills, such as the ability to sit up.

Successful Operation

Soon, the little boy was scheduled for surgery. “I cried but I knew that he was in good hands,” remembers Darata. “I felt like I had formed a relationship with the team at Newark Beth Israel.”

The surgery went well, and Giovanni had no serious side effects.

“The difference can be like night and day after this procedure,” says Dr. Malhotra. “Babies who couldn’t eat before will quickly gain weight and thrive.”

“Giovanni was eating on his own two hours later,” reports the thankful mom, who was able to take her son home just four days after the procedure. “He could finally enjoy a bottle for the first time!”

About four to six weeks later, her baby boy “really started to come alive,” says Darata.

Today, Giovanni “thinks he’s the boss,” laughs his mother. “He loves to talk. He’s walking. He’s a very happy boy, and he loves everybody!”

As to his future, “Giovanni should have no limitations, including a normal quality of life and no more surgeries,” explains Dr. Malhotra.

Darata especially appreciates the personalized care she and her family received from the staff.

“Everyone at Newark Beth made sure we were educated about Giovanni’s cardiac condition and surgery. They really knew my son, and they took care of us.”