Not long ago this little girl would have died. Texas Children's gave her the gift of life
Fraser unquestionably had the chops to do Makenna's final operation. He came to Texas Children's in 1995 at age 37 after working in Australia and at the Cleveland Clinic with Roger Mee, a legendary maestro in the art of children's heart repair. "He was why I became a pediatric heart surgeon," says Fraser, a likable plain talker with four children of his own who reads the Bible every day but also worships at the altar of his alma mater, the University of Texas--the Longhorns' football team in particular.
Today Fraser would perform a Fontan (named for another innovator), separating the second large vein, the inferior vena cava, from the heart and extending it to the pulmonary artery with a piece of Gore-Tex tubing. The architecture of Makenna's heart and plumbing is now far from normal--but it is working well. "She's pink!" exclaims her mother, a first-grade teacher expecting twins, when she gets her first look at Makenna after surgery. "She is, isn't she?" marvels her father, a youth minister.
When Fraser was new to Texas Children's, the Norwood survival rate was zero. He did his first one there, on a newborn boy, the month after he started. He finished up and went to get a gurney, but one wasn't waiting outside as usual. "When I asked where it was," says Fraser, "they told me, 'What's the point? He's going to die anyway.'" That baby is now 12 years old.