You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but 4-year-old Jake Schumacher was born with serious heart defects.
After cardiac surgery when he was just 5 months old, he needed another procedure to place a stent to improve blood flow through the heart.
“It was pretty hard, because I just kept thinking, ‘Why my son?'” his father, Craig Schumacher, said of learning of his son’s diagnosis in an exclusive interview with CBS News.
Typically, when surgeons are placing stents in children, they use adult stents with a narrow diameter, which then have to be replaced via open heart surgery as the children grow. But the night before Jake was scheduled to get another stent, the surgeon’s office called his parents.
“They said, ‘There’s this new technology where there’s a stent that can grow with him,'” Jake’s mother, Yvette Honda-Schumacher, recalled.
It’s called the Minima stent, the first ever designed for babies and very young children. It expands as the child grows, making another major heart operation less likely.
Dr. Dor Markush, a pediatric cardiologist at Cedars-Sinai Guerin Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles — where Jake had his stent placed as part of a clinical trial — called the advancement “game-changing” and “really exciting.”
So far, 10 children at four hospitals have received the stents.
“At six months follow up, there were no issues with the stent that was deployed,” Markush said of the 10 patients. “There was 100% relief of the original narrowings, and there were no serious adverse events.”
Nine months after receiving his stent, Jake is doing Taekwondo, and is also planning to take up ice hockey.