Hail to the Little Victors: Darren Xiangzi Kreps’ Story

erik krepsWe first learned about Darren’s situation in March of 2012. He was three years old and living in an orphanage in Shenzhen City, China. He’d been found as an infant in a local hospital waiting room with a note presumably from his birth parents indicating his birth date and that “We hope the kind people can help him.”

It was discovered that he had multiple congenital heart defects.  They were able to diagnose the problems in his region of China but couldn’t treat them due to the complexities.   It was determined that he had a very short life expectancy without surgical intervention.

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Erasing the need for heart transplants

U-M doctors are exploring ways to grow heart tissue for patients, from their own skin cells

Above: Heart tissue created from pluripotent stem cells pulse in a petri dish in Dr. Si’s research lab.

It may sound like a plot point from a sci-fi thriller, but turning skin cells into heart tissue is what Ming-Sing Si, MD, is doing in his research lab at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. And one day, it might eliminate the need for heart transplantation.

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Sweetheart profiles: Gabe and Sonal Owens

In celebration of Valentine’s month and Congenital Heart Defect Awareness month, we’re bringing the best of both worlds together through a series of profiles about some of the Congenital Heart Center team members you know and love, in the eyes of their sweethearts!  We hope you enjoy getting to know the “cupids” among our faculty and staff!

The summer before Gabe Owens, MD, PhD, started medical school at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, a friend invited him to join a group on a white water rafting trip. It was on that trip that he met his future wife, Sonal Owens, MD. They became friends, but there was no love connection at the time.

“Almost a year later, we started dating. It took some convincing on my part,” recalls Gabe, a pediatric cardiologist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s Congenital Heart Center. Sonal was a year ahead of Gabe in Medical School. When Sonal, also a pediatric cardiologist who specializes in imaging, was deciding where to complete her residency, she made pro/con lists for all the programs. “It came down to a program in Philadelphia and one in Cleveland. The pro list for Philadelphia was long, the pro list for Cleveland only had three items on it — and they were all me,” says Gabe. Continue reading

A “Mended Hearts” Valentine Greeting

A special message from the CHD kids of C.S. Mott Children's Hospital

Nearly 1 in every 100 babies is born with a congenital heart defect.
A few years ago, most of these children would not survive, but today, many are living into adulthood, thanks to revolutionary techniques developed at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

As one of the nation’s top children’s heart programs, we treat the entire spectrum of heart conditions, repairing some heart defects before a child is even born.

Today, our efforts at Mott Children’s Hospital are focused on not only saving young children, but improving their quality of life at every stage of life through adulthood.








“The Face of Love” song used with permission from Sanctus Real.

Ultrasound: Not just for baby pictures

U-M researchers making "knifeless" surgery a reality for babies with congenital heart defects

A “hole” created in atrial tissue using “knifeless surgery” techniques Dr Owens and his team hope to use to create flow channels in the hearts of infants with congenital heart defects.

Anyone who has had a baby is familiar with ultrasound. That squirt of gel on your belly and the magic of the image of your little developing baby. Those images are made possible by high-frequency sound waves that bounce off the baby and back to the transducer in the hand of the technician or doctor. It’s that same technology, but on a much more intense level, that Gabe Owens, MD, PhD, is using in his research.

“We’re working to harness the energy the ultrasound emits and use it for therapeutic purposes,” says Dr. Owens. His research focuses on opening flow channels in the hearts of babies with congenital heart defects.

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