Central Florida doctor heals tiny broken hearts - FOX 35 News Orlando

Central Florida doctor heals tiny broken hearts, brings hope to families

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He's only 4 months old, and already, David Legros has probably faced one of his biggest physical challenges of his little life.

"That night, when we arrived, at 11:30, the doctor said your son is going into surgery tomorrow," his mother, Denise Burns-LeGros remembers.

David was born with a congenital heart defect. Doctors didn't notice until a wellness check several weeks into his short life. He was rushed to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

Mom had lots of questions before the surgery.

"I asked about the surgeon's credentials, and how many little ones has he worked on, and his outcomes," Burns-LeGros says.

The surgeon was Dr. William DeCampli, a veteran pediatric heart surgeon. What mom didn't know was that for 20 years, DeCampli has been healing broken hearts in the tiniest tots.

"It hardly matters how hard the problem is. I think I can do something for it," DeCampli says.

If his hands are involved in surgery, babies can expect to beat the odds. DeCampli has the lowest mortality and highest success rates in all of the country when it comes to repairing newborn babies' hearts.
    
"We are so blessed that he is with us here in Orlando," Burns-LeGros says. "What a special person he is to want to treat children, and be here for our little ones, and do these very difficult procedures and surgeries."

DeCampli earned a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before getting his Ph.D. from Harvard. At the same time, he was selected as an astronaut candidate, a semifinalist in NASA's Group 10. He decided to pass on the opportunity after a talk with Dad.

"My dad was in science, and he steered me into physics initially. I pursued astronomy. It came down to what my real passion was, and that was health care," DeCampli says.

"He said, 'Bill, kids with complex heart disease don't survive, and someday we're going to be able to save them.' And that really hit a tone with me, and I thought, 'What a challenge that is.'

"And that ended up being my greater calling," DeCampli says.

A calling that leaves parents calling him their hero.

"He saved Stella's life," parent Kristine Osborne says.

Stella Osborne, now 2, was only three days old when she met DeCampli, who left her with a small scar that Mom says represents new life.

"Dr. DeCampli, we just love you and thank you every day for saving our daughter's life, Osborne says.

"I'm so happy that he's still with us," Burns-LeGros says, "because he told us if we had waited 12 more hours, [David] wouldn't be with us.

"To know Dr. DeCampli and his team saved our child, we can never say thank you for what he did for us."

Words will never be enough for these mothers, but the love in their hearts is overflowing this Valentine's Day for a man who heals babies broken hearts.

For more information on The Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, go to The Heart Center's web page.

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