Groundbreaking research in Pittsburgh could revolutionize treatment for children with certain heart defects

PITTSBURGH — A local 3-year-old is at the center of groundbreaking research. He was born with a common heart defect, but local doctors learned from his case, and it could revolutionize treatment for other children.

Alec Romagnoli loves karate and like most children his age, he doesn’t remember his first year of life.

“We made it through and we’re together, and thankful every day,” said Alec’s father Kevin Romagnoli.

It was filled with doctor’s appointments and open heart surgery.


“When he was 2 days old we found out that he was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot,” said Alec’s mother, Katrina Romagnoli. “It was a very big shock and being told that you needed open heart surgery was really tough to hear. That was probably the hardest year of my life.”

The Romagnoli family was recruited into a study which led to the ground breaking research.

“For most of us working in the lab, this doesn’t happen to us ever,” said UPMC pediatric cardiologist Dr. Bernhard Kuhn.

The study found that a sixty year old high blood pressure drug could actually make hearts like Alec’s stronger. They found that out by testing the drug on tissue in the lab.

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