Every time a child is born, it’s a miracle. However, sometimes, babies are born with physical conditions that require an immediate response to ensure their survival – conditions like a congenital heart defect. When this happens, you want a caring, qualified physician on hand – someone like Dr. Jorge Salazar, MD, one of the foremost experts in restoring healthy hearts to infants.

Salazar earned his medical degree from University of Washington in Seattle, completed a residency in cardiothoracic surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, and benefited from additional fellowships in pediatric heart surgery at the University of California at San Francisco and the Hospital Val de Hebron in Madrid, Spain. Before coming to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, he was associate professor of surgery and pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

Salazar arrived at UMMC in April 2010 to serve as associate professor of surgery, chief of congenital heart surgery and director of the congenital heart program for Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children. Since his arrival, he and his congenital heart team have performed nearly 60 pediatric surgeries – all with excellent results. When you consider that nearly 45,000 children are born each year in the state, and 1 in 1,000 will have a congenital heart defect, it puts into perspective how vital these services are to the children of Mississippi.

Open-heart surgery is a risky procedure regardless of the age of the patient, but performing surgery on a three-day old, with a heart the size of a silver dollar, is nothing short of miraculous. In fact, in addition to performing miracles for these “little miracles,” Salazar and his team have made medical history – the first arterial shift on an infant in the state of Mississippi.

The groundbreaking procedure was performed on little Zavin Arellano, son of Roberto Arellano and Georgianna Joe of Heidelberg, Mississippi. After noticing that her newborn son was exhibiting strange breathing patterns, Joe alerted little Zavin’s attending nurses and physicians. Doctors reported they could hear an echo and that the child’s oxygen levels were low.

An AirCare team rushed the child to University of Mississippi Medical Center and it was determined that Zavin was born with two major heart vessels switched, as well as a hole in his heart. Before the arrival of Dr. Salazar, this would have meant mother and child would have had to leave the state to seek medical help. Instead, the help was closer at hand, at Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children.

The arterial switch is a complex procedure that involves switching the heart’s major arteries back to their normal position, and moving the delicate coronary arteries within the aorta. “It’s one of the most complex heart surgeries done in children, and it’s the first time it has ever been performed in the state of Mississippi,” Salazar said. “It is just one of the ways we are working to make Batson Hospital’s pediatric heart surgery program one of the leading centers in the country.”

Thanks to Dr. Salazar, his team of highly trained pediatric surgeons, and donations from people just like you, little Zavin is healthy today, his heart beating strong and happy.