Quincy was born five weeks early via emergency c-section when doctors couldn’t find his heartbeat.
“Of course, it was such a scary time for me,” said Kristina, Quincy’s mom. “But he was born just fine and didn’t need the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or any specialized care.”
During the first year of his life, Quincy was sick often and faced numerous cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory virus in infants and young children that causes cold-like symptoms. He also had a severe case of COVID that turned into COVID pneumonia. His lung issues and chest retractions prompted his pediatrician to refer the family to pulmonology.
“Doctors were still trying to figure out what was wrong with his lungs; they thought it might be an issue related to his premature birth,” Kristina said. “They didn’t see or hear anything wrong with his heart.”
At Quincy’s two-year check-up appointment, the pediatrician listened to his heart for a few seconds and heard a murmur. Quincy was immediately referred to a cardiologist.
“I was in disbelief; I kept thinking there was no way it was his heart. He had seen so many specialists – how could it be his heart?” Kristina said. “A few days went by and we were lucky to end up with an appointment at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.”
At The Children’s Hospital, Dr. Krittika Joshi assessed Quincy and didn’t hear anything wrong initially, but ordered an echocardiogram.
“We went back to the patient room after the echocardiogram and Dr. Joshi walked in holding a 3D heart,” Kristina remembers. “She went into lots of details about what she saw on the echocardiogram. Quincy had a few different heart defects, some extra parts, some missing parts, and he was going to need open heart surgery. She was a great teacher. She even made a drawing and explained everything with so much detail, which we appreciated very much. But we also learned it was not going to be a simple fix and it was all very shocking.”
“The next time we saw Dr. Joshi, she presented Quincy to Dr. Daniel Nento and his amazing surgical team at The Children’s Hospital. Dr. Nento explained the entire surgery, again with much detail in a very calm, reassuring manner. They were both incredible and very confident in their surgical plan and the skills of their team,” Kristina said. “It helped calm my nerves and I knew immediately that Quincy was in the best hands.”
Quincy went into a seven-hour surgery one week later and had several repairs on his heart. Surgeons also found he had two superior vena cava veins. Most people only have one; it’s a major vein in the upper body that carries blood from your head, neck, upper chest, and arms to the heart. He also had four extra veins connecting to his lungs, and had one piece missing from the back wall of his heart. This meant his blood was not circulating correctly, causing ‘bad blood’ to enter his lungs.
“It finally made sense – this is why he was always sick and having respiratory issues, and why he struggled to fight off illnesses,” Kristina said. “Doctors explained the issues with his heart, and how the blood is supposed to cycle through from his lungs to his heart and body. The way his heart was working, his ‘body blood’ was only circulating through his body and his ‘lung blood’ was only circulating through his lungs. They rerouted the blood and patched the missing piece.”
Quincy recovered in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) after surgery and was able to go home just a few days later.
“Quincy is undoubtedly the strongest human I’ve ever known. It felt like he was the mascot of the PICU at The Children’s Hospital. He loved walking around and saying hi to everyone, and played in the child life playroom often,” Kristina remembers. “The environment and the caretakers made a very scary situation much more manageable. They did so many little things they didn’t have to do – even the smallest things that made our lives just a little bit easier.”
Quincy returned to The Children’s Hospital for his four, eight, and twelve-week follow-up appointments after surgery, and there were still a few areas of concern. His journey continues today, and doctors are keeping a close eye on his heartbeat and tightening of the superior vena cava at the entry of his right atrium. He will need future surgeries, but he continues through each day with his resilient, courageous spirit.
“He’s the brightest light in any room. Anyone can look at his happy little face and never know he has been through such a difficult journey,” Kristina said. “He loves cheese, superheroes, dinosaurs, and Legos. He spends lots of time with his two older siblings and loves being outside catching bugs, and playing with balls and bubbles.”
“We really love The Children’s Hospital. The staff is awesome, and they genuinely love my son; you can just feel it,” Kristina added. “It really feels like everyone is there just to make the world a better place, and to help our kids grow up to be happy, successful humans. They keep families healthy and allow us to be together and grow together. And thanks to them, we have the greatest gift today: the gift of watching Quincy grow up and some day change the world, too.”