A five-year-old boy suffering from an complicated heart condition had a heart valve repaired during five hours of surgery on Wednesday in northeast China.
"The case is so rare that we found no reference in any textbook at all,"said surgeon Zhang Xueqin, from the People's Hospital of Jilin Province.
The boy is in a stable condition, and has been transferred to a general ward.
The patient was born with Barlow's syndrome, which may cause arrhythmia, cerebrovascular accidents or even cardiac arrest.
The condition mostly occurs to adults, who can have their heart valve replaced. Due to underdeveloped cardiac function, children with Barlow's syndrome have few options but highly risky repair surgery.
The patient had seen doctors in Beijing and Jilin, who were divided on whether he should receive conservative treatment or surgery. As his condition worsened, his parents became worried that he would not make it to 15 years old, the minimum age for valve replacement.
Zhang Xueqin found the boy also suffered from pulmonary vein malformation, which complicated surgery.
"A half of the pulmonary vein linking his lung and heart is deformed," said Zhang, the doctor, "With such complications, the surgery is extremely difficult."
The little patient will be discharged from hospital in a week and will be able to take PE classes in school.
However, the surgery can not cure the condition and it is very likely that the repaired valve will eventually be replaced.
"I'm sure there will be more new treatments as medicine continues to develop," Zhang said. "At least the surgery will improve the life of the boy a lot, and give him a chance to grow up like any other child."