Newborn with congenital heart defect beats the odds

At just 5 weeks old, Sterling Guerrero has had his heart reset 10 times. But he and his family are continuing to fight for his life.

SAN ANTONIO - A newborn in San Antonio with a congenital heart defect is continuing to beat the odds.

In his short five weeks of life, Sterling Guerrero has been hospitalized for a potentially deadly virus, has had his heart reset 10 times, and has been treated with three different heart medications.

Sterling was initially hospitalized for respiratory syncytial virus, which causes infections in the lungs and respiratory tract. While the symptoms are similar to a common cold for adults, it can be deadly for infants.

His mother said that during his treatment for the virus at the hospital, Sterling's heart began beating rapidly.

"The heart monitor jumped to 250 and then it stopped working," said Shannon Guerrero, Sterling's mother. "They had to inject a drug to reset his heart. There was a good three seconds where his heart had stopped on the monitor. It was the longest three seconds of my life."

Sterling was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where doctors discovered a major problem. He had Wolf-Parkinson White Syndrome, a congenital heart defect that affects the heart’s electrical system and causes a rapid heartbeat.

"We certainly didn't think, going to the ER, we would end up with a pretty major heart issue," Shannon said.

Sterling's father said that every time doctors had to reset his heart, which was a total of 10 times, Sterling came back strong every time.

"I see him as a spitting image of us. And as a boy, I see him being just like me. I've gone through some trials and tribulations," said JJ Guerrero, Sterling's father. 

JJ knows what it takes to have perseverance and courage. He served a total of 23 years in the Marine Corps and Army. During his third tour in Iraq, he was severely injured by an IED explosion and was forced to amputate his right leg.

"It was very intensive. Things like we take for granted like showering and walking around the house, doing house chores, going to work, I was in the wheelchair a lot," JJ recalled. "As a single amputee, I was doing pretty well. I thank Shannon, she was there all the way and kept me going and pushing me along to get better and to do more things."

Then four years later, JJ was hit with more devastating news: He developed skin cancer on his left heel.

"On one of my wounds, I ended up having to go through two years of surgery to excise the cancer," JJ explained. "We decided that it was best to have another amputation."

JJ said, just like him, he knows his son will fight through any hurdle. Sterling will require daily medication for six months to a year and possibly surgery down the road.

"I've gotten through them with the help of God. And I was always confident that whatever he had, whatever he was going to diagnosed with, if it was something minor or major, it was going to be okay," JJ said.

The cost of Sterling's hospital stay and treatment has been overwhelming for the entire family. If you would like to help them, they've set up a GoFundMe page you can contribute to here.

© 2018 KENS-TV


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