One pioneering operation, one happy toddler

Rosco was born a 'blue baby' as his arteries were the wrong way round. He wasn't getting enough oxygen in his blood. Within days after being born he needed to have open heart surgery, invented by a BHF-funded Professor, to correct this.

The Switch operation is the closest we’ve come to a ‘fix’ for one of the strands of congenital heart disease and means children like Rosco have a chance at a normal life without repeated surgery.

In the UK, 12 babies like Rosco are diagnosed with congenital heart conditions every day. Although most babies born with a heart defect now grow up to be adults, we still need more research to save every little heart and guarantee them a good quality life.

Below is a snapshot of work happening today that will save lives tomorrow. 

New grafts for tiny hearts to grow with

professor paolo with his microscope

Professor Paolo Madeddu wants babies with congenital heart disease to have a future free of multiple operations.

Grafts currently used to repair defects cannot match the growth of a child’s heart.This means more operations for children with congenital heart conditions to replace outgrown grafts.

To combat this, Professor Madeddu is exploring ways to use stem cell-based tissue engineering to develop a new prosthetic graft.

The hope is the cells in the graft will become the living tissue that replaces the graft and grow with the child.


3D hearts pave the way for personalised treatment

3D printed hearts

No two heart defects are exactly alike.

This means one child’s treatment may not work as well on a different child.

To overcome this, one of our researchers, Dr Claudio Capelli is printing 3D hearts using computer models of the hearts of patients with congenital heart disease.

Thanks to this approach, we are able to get a better understanding of each patient’s individual condition and we hope, develop more personalised and more effective treatment plans.




If your baby is living with a heart condition and you're looking for help with understanding their condition, we're here to help.

Call us on 0300 330 3311 (similar cost to 01 or 02 numbers). Phone lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Or email us your questions to [email protected]