A Successful Open Heart Surgery for Baby Rohan

  • Oct 27

A Successful Open Heart Surgery for Baby Rohan

For any parent, the health of their child is most important especially during the first few months of development. Every milestone is celebrated and recorded in photos and baby books. But for Francis and Alonah Rio, they suspected something was off with their son Rohan when he began showing signs of a heart problem.

Rohan was breathing faster than normal even during breastfeeding, his head was sweaty, and he didn’t gain much weight. It was then confirmed after his 2D echocardiogram that he was diagnosed with Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), a congenital heart disease, and the only cure available is to undergo an open heart surgery. It was a situation the family knew too well, since their first child was also diagnosed with VSD and it totally shocked them as they didn’t know what to do during those times. Sadly, their first child passed even before getting a surgery.

Rohan’s diagnosis prompted the family to look for a hospital that could perform a delicate surgery on an 11-month-old baby, and that search led them to De Los Santos Medical Center (DLSMC) that made the preparations for the operation even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to DLSMC pediatric interventional cardiologist Dr. Louisa Joan Go, “each patient is different. As part of the medical team, it’s our job to pick out what the risks are for each individual patient. For this one, kaya siya early ginawa is because of the very large hole (in the heart). So, compared to the other VSD patients, nasa high risk spectrum siya. The preparations for Baby Rio, is actually more kasi we had to prepare everything that the baby will need before we even get to surgery. That involves preparing staff, gamit, family, blood, everything that we need, we prepare beforehand.”

The operation was conducted on June 27, 2021 led by cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Carlo Martin Garcia, with surgeon assist Dr. Sabrina Anne Gonzalez, anesthesiologist Dr. Gina Gumintad, pediatric cardiologist Dr. Cathleen Faye Lu and pediatric interventional cardiologists Dr. Dexter Eugene Cheng, and Dr. Louisa Joan Go. It was the first pediatric open heart surgery for DLSMC. The surgery lasted for four hours, and Rohan was able to go home after four days.

Hindi kami nag doubt na first time (of DLSMC to conduct a pediatric open heart surgery). We never doubted if kaya ba nila. Basta sabi ng doctor na bago ang makina at kagamitan. Sa amin kasi, may tiwala kami sa doctor,” said Daddy Francis.

When compared how the operation differed from pre-COVID times, Dr. Go explained, “previously we just diagnose a patient and say go for surgery and admit. So now we need to make sure that the patient’s family is cleared of infection. We have to make sure that the patient is not exposed to anybody; that’s part of the COVID precaution. We prepare them not to go out for the next two weeks, swab, PPE and precaution really for everybody.” For the Rio family, they were happy about the outcome of the operation and how DLSMC, specifically the medical staff, nurses and doctors who were very hands-on pre- and post-operation. Everyone was hand-in-hand in ensuring a safe operation for baby Rohan.

After more than a month, Mrs. Rio said that baby Rohan had already gained weight, is doing well and becoming healthier. He celebrated his first birthday last July 31 as a healthy child. Also, they’ve begun teaching him how to walk. As for how they felt about the outcome of the surgery, Mr. Rio happily uttered “very very happy kami. As in. Totally happy. Thank you sa kanilang lahat, kina Doc. Very satisfied kami sa ginawa nila”. Dr. Go exclaimed, “it turned out better than expected. I’m happy with the results for Baby (Rohan). Poster child natin (Baby Rohan) siya.”

To parents who are experiencing the same situation as the Rio family, Mr. Rio advices. “stay strong and have faith”.

For inquiries about congenital heart diseases and pediatric open heart surgery, contact the DLSMC Congenital and Structural Heart Unit at 889-DLSMC (35762) ext. 8143 or email productinfo@dlsmc.ph. 


The Rio family with DLSMC pediatric interventional cardiologists during their follow up check-up. From left to right: Dr. Dexter Eugene Cheng, Mr. Francis Leo Rio, Baby Dominic Rohan Rio, Mrs. Alonah Rio, and Dr. Louisa Joan Go.
The Rio family with DLSMC pediatric interventional cardiologists during their follow up check-up. From left to right: Dr. Dexter Eugene Cheng, Mr. Francis Leo Rio, Baby Dominic Rohan Rio, Mrs. Alonah Rio, and Dr. Louisa Joan Go.


Rohan Rio doing well just a few days after his open heart surgery. He is carried by DLSMC Cathlab/ICU Supervisor Jen Toldo.


The Rio family are all smiles for the successful open heart surgery of baby Rohan. From left to right: Mr. Francis Leo D. Rio, Baby Dominic Rohan M. Rio and Mrs. Alonah M. Rio.