Advance with MUSC Health

Beau's Story

Advance With MUSC Health
March 05, 2020
Beau Davis and his parents

Beginning the New Year With a Broken Heart

After trying to get pregnant for 5 years, Leah and Michael Davis turned to IVF (in vitro fertilization). It was successful, and in the spring of 2019 they got the good news that Leah was pregnant. Following a normal pregnancy without complications, Beau William Davis was born on December 30, 2019 in Columbia, SC, and weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces.

Things were going great, and on the night of December 31st, the couple decided that Beau would spend the night in the nursery so Leah could get a good night’s sleep, and Michael would go home to sleep before picking them up the next morning. However just several hours later, Michael received a phone call at 2:45 a.m., just after the new year had started, and learned that there was a problem with Beau’s heart, and that he and Leah were being airlifted to MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston.

In the nursery, the nurses had performed a couple of routine tests including the pulse oximetry test, a non-invasive test that measures how much oxygen is in the blood. The result triggered pediatric cardiologist Dr. Maggie Gray to order an echocardiogram, which confirmed that Beau had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS).

HLHS is a complex and rare birth defect, where the left side of the infant’s heart has not formed completely, interrupting the blood flow to the body. It is even more rare to not be diagnosed pre-natal, as was the case with Beau.

Both Leah and Michael knew MUSC well as Leah was previously a nurse at MUSC, and Michael had completed his residency in radiology at MUSC. Dr. Sinai Zyblewski, a pediatric cardiologist, was there to meet them on arrival. She told them the difficult news that Beau’s situation was critical.

“It was a total whirlwind,” Michael said. “We met with pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Minoo Kavarana, and he went through options with us. We just prayed that Beau’s heart could recover to the point where he was strong enough to be able to have surgery.” Amazingly, day by day, Beau made a drastic turnaround and his heart continued to get stronger.

On January 7, Beau was able to have surgery, where Dr. Kavarana performed the Norwood procedure, the first of three surgeries for infants born with HLHS. With the Norwood procedure, the aorta is reconstructed and connected to the right ventricle. A small shunt is also placed in the wall of the right ventricle and connected to the pulmonary arteries so that blood can be pumped both to the lungs and the rest of the body.

“They said the surgery could not have gone better,” he said. “He was in the pediatric cardiac ICU, where they anticipated he’d be for two-three weeks. They left his chest open after surgery, and he was connected to a total of 13 different lines and tubes.

“But two days after surgery, his chest was able to be closed,” he said. “And nine days after surgery, way ahead of schedule, he was moved out of the ICU. Ultimately, they sent us home 29 days after we got there. It was nothing short of a miracle.”

Unlike many parents who have a child born with HLHS, Leah and Michael have medical backgrounds that helped them understand much of what Beau would encounter. But when it’s your own child, it’s a totally different feeling.

Michael said, “It’s just overwhelming. The best thing you can do is talk with doctors and nurses as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask any and every question. They are your best resource, and were always more than willing to answer any question we asked.”

He was filled with gratitude for the MUSC nurses, staff and physicians who supported them fully and cared for Beau.

“I’ll never forget walking out the night after Beau’s surgery, and seeing Dr. Kavarana and Dr. Zyblewski both sitting at Beau’s bedside in the ICU. They stayed there all night long. Everyone involved in his care was just incredible to him and to us, and we are so grateful.”

At home, Beau continues to do well. He‘s eating great and sleeping well too, and is just trying to get bigger and stronger for his next surgery this summer.

Friends set up a care page about Beau’s incredible journey. To learn more about Beau, visit