Josmaily Luzon Cruz

With heart failure growing rapidly worse, a four-year-old boy from the Dominican Republic, named Josmaily, could never run and play with other kids. But two weeks after his surprise heart surgery at MassGeneral Hospital for Children with the support of the David Ortiz Fund for Children, he happily trots along, ready for fun.

Josmaily-Luzon-Cruz-and-fatehr-Jose-Luzon-300x300In October, Josmaily Luzon Cruz appeared before Oscar Benavidez, MD, Chief of Cardiology, MassGeneral Hospital for Children for a heart evaluation. The tiny boy with a sweet smile had another problem. His parents had brought him from their home in Dominican Republic not for heart care, but for treatment of scars resulting from a severe burn he had sustained two years earlier.

Instead, the burn treatment doctors listened to his heart and heard trouble. They sent him to Dr. Benavidez at the MGHfC Pediatric Cardiology Program.

"His condition was alarming when I saw him," Dr. Benavidez says. Josmaily had an abnormal tricuspid heart valve that was causing heart failure. That meant the blood could not move easily through his heart and was backing up and "sloshing back and forth in a very harsh way," Dr. Benavidez explains.


The burn treatment would have to wait until Josmaily could recover from heart surgery. His parents had known about Josmaily’s heart condition but the poor public hospital they go to in the Dominican Republic could offered no solution, says Jose Luzon, Josmaily’s father. Josmaily was so weak that his parents usually carried him or pushed him in a stroller. Running and playing with other children was not part of Josmaily’s life. "I was really scared," Jose says, “but I hear this hospital is very special for this kind of heart problem." For his life to be saved, Josmaily needed open heart surgery to repair his defective heart valve and prevent heart failure.

They discovered that Josmaily's valve defect was a rarely seen abnormality. The surgery was challenging, but, luck, skill and good planning were with Josmaily that day. The surgery went smoothly and without complications. Five days later, he was able to go home with his parents to a temporary apartment arranged by an MGHfC social worker in the Charlestown Navy Yard.

Two weeks later, Josmaily has a spring his step as he follows his father down the hallway to visit Dr. Benavidez. "He's really doing great," Dr. Benavidez says, as Josmaily sits in his father's lap smiling. "This is exactly the outcome we hoped for. His valve function is pretty close to normal. His heart is still a little weak but it will take time to grow stronger.

Asked about his son’s new ability to walk and run, Jose says: "He does not want to run, he wants to fly!”

The David Ortiz Children's fund, which supported all aspects of Josmaily's heart care at MGHfC, specializes in care for children with congenital heart disease. Other examples of children who have benefited from the fund at MGHfC include children born with severe holes in their hearts, adolescents who have collapse on the athletic field because of congenital heart lesions, and children who require emergency mechanical heart support because of heart failure. Josmaily’s and his father’s faces both light up when they hear the name of David Ortiz mentioned. Placing his hand reverently on his chest, Jose says, "I keep him in my heart and my mind because he has been so good to us."