CLEVELAND (WJW) – He has been defying the odds since day one.
Deangelo Blake, Jr., or DJ, was born prematurely on January 18, 2020. Sadly, his twin did not survive.
When DJ was released from the hospital at just 2 pounds and 6 ounces, something still wasn’t right.
“They mentioned he had a heart murmur and all preemies have this and I wasn’t really ready to accept that answer,” said his mom, Danielle Edmonds.
Danielle went for a second opinion at the Cleveland Clinic where she was given a grim diagnosis. DJ was born with a heart defect, meaning his blood was not flowing properly to his heart or lungs.
“In simple terms, the two great arteries that come out of the heart, instead of coming from each ventricle, both of them come out of one ventricle which was the right,” said Cleveland Clinic congenital heart surgeon Dr. Hani Najm.
Dr. Najm created a 3-D version of DJ’s heart to better explain to Danielle what to expect — a first at the clinic.
He’s also the youngest patient ever to undergo a ventricular switch to repair his heart.
“His size was small, but not only this, he was also sick on the ventilator. He was never breathing on his own since birth, so it added up to the complexity,” said Dr. Najm.
“He brought my baby back to me like I asked him. He didn’t pass away. I didn’t lose my baby on the table,” said Danielle.
In just five months, DJ underwent the nine-hour surgery and after spending 484 days in the hospital, DJ was finally released this past May. His sendoff at the clinic was an emotional one.
“Thank you for it not just being a job. For loving us as a family, not just as a patient. We made a family out of the Cleveland Clinic,” Danielle said.