For the Gomez-Flores family, the arrival of their son in November 2021 was a blessing. Jesus – affectionately called “JJ” – was Victor Gomez and Sofia Flores’ first child together. He was the only boy among three older sisters ages 3, 7 and 15. The family was thrilled but also knew that JJ would face some serious health challenges ahead.

During Sofia’s pregnancy, JJ had been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) at the UC Davis Fetal Care and Treatment Center. The left side of his heart had not formed properly, affecting blood flow. Survival of infants with HLHS most often requires immediate surgery and subsequent procedures. Many infants die within the first two weeks of life.

JJ sleeping in his crib.

“We were so worried,” Victor Gomez-Flores said. “We knew that the surgeries to help him survive were very dangerous.”

As the family grappled with the gravity of the situation, they were referred to the UC Davis Pediatric Heart Center. The center has an integrated team of surgeons, specialists, pediatric cardiologists and nurses. They offer families, like JJ’s, the most sophisticated, specialized expertise … and that’s just what the HLHS congenital heart defect would require.

Surgery for HLHS usually is done in three separate stages. Although these surgeries do not cure the condition, surgeons are able to gradually reconstruct the heart, improving survival. The Gomez-Flores family put their trust in the UC Davis Children’s Hospital care team to save JJ’s life.

“It was going to be a long road,” Gomez-Flores said. “But without a doubt, we felt JJ was in good hands.”

Read JJ’s full story