Open Heart Surgery Saves the Life of a Teenage Athlete


It’s estimated that one in every 250 high school student athletes is at risk of a serious cardiac condition that could result in sudden death. These deaths are typically the result of a hidden heart defect. That was the case for 13-year-old Joaquim Solis when a rare heart defect nearly took his life. The story was featured on KXAN.

For the past two years Joaquim, a baseball player, had been taking medication for occasional shortness of breath and chest pain while exercising. On Sept 20, 2018 Joaquin was rushed to the emergency room at Dell Children’s Medical Center with severe chest pains. Cardiologists and pulmonologists at Dell Children’s diagnosed Joaquim with Anomalous Left Coronary Artery, a rare congenital heart defect. Joaquim needed emergency heart surgery.  Pediatric cardiac surgeon Dr. Carlos Mery performed the six hour open heart surgery on Joaquim and saved his life.

Dr. Mery is a congenital cardiac surgeon in the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease program. The program is a collaboration between Dell Children’s and UT Health Austin, the clinical practice of Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.