Infant whose life-saving procedure was stalled by travel ban doing well post-surgery

Oregon Health and Science University doctors say a 4-month-old girl whose life-saving procedure was stalled by Pres. Trump's travel ban is doing well post-surgery.

Fatemah Rashad, arguably the face of the immigration ban, is currently recovering at Doernbecher Children's Hospital following heart surgery she had Feb. 17.

She suffers from two heart defects that doctors say could have have killed her had she not received treatment.

“Fatemeh was born with a very rare and complex form of heart disease that affects about two in 10,000 newborns,” OHSU cardiologist Dr. Laurie Armsby explained. Two arteries in Fatemeh's heart are switched and she was born with holes in her heart -- it's a condition called septal defects.

“The blood coming back from the body goes into the right heart and then is pumped back to the body. It doesn’t have the opportunity to go into the lungs and pick up oxygen,” Armsby said.

Without oxygen in her blood, doctors say the damage to Fatemeh's lungs could have been permanent.

“She has blue blood coming into the heart and going right back out to the body,” Armsby said.

In order to get oxygenated red blood flowing, doctors needed to switch two of her heart's arteries.

Dr. Irving Shen, the OHSU cardiac surgeon who operated on Fatemeh, says she had a few complications due to the condition of her heart. Typically, doctors operate on babies with this condition in their first month; Fatemeh is 4 months old.

Following the surgery, doctors now say Fatemeh is "out of the woods."

"Her heart function looks beautiful. We're very pleased with how she's been recovering," said Dr. Armsby

Now with this surgery, doctors say Fatemah's future looks bright.

“With treatment, this child would be expected to live an active and full life. The burden of medical care would be low,” Dr. Armsby said.

Fatemeh's uncle, Samad Taghizadeh, says the family is overwhelmed and by the generosity and support from strangers through the ordeal.

"In the beginning, I didn't have any hope of my family coming here. I said, 'who is going to listen to me?' I tried and I was surprised how many people in U.S. helped," he said. "I am thankful forever to you. I'm so happy and I'm proud of the U.S."

Doctors say they don't know how long Fatemeh will be in the hospital, but expect her to make a full recovery.

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