Patient Stories


Minutes after her birth, Laurel was diagnosed with a life-threatening heart defect known as transposition of the great arteries (TGA). The blood vessels taking blood away from her heart were in the wrong place. Laurel’s delivery hospital wasn’t equipped to handle the complexities of her case, and her little heart needed surgery – fast.

Overwhelmed with Laurel’s diagnosis and not knowing where to go, her parents were frightened. But her grandfather, a San Antonio pediatrician, knew about the success rates of the University Children’s Health Heart Center – the only dedicated pediatric heart center in the region. He felt passionately that Laurel needed to be cared for by this experienced team. Just a few days later, Laurel’s parents were in consultation with the physicians at the University Children's Heart Center, and Laurel underwent the very complex surgery that would save her life.

At University Health System we don’t just see what is – a baby with a damaged heart. We see what can be – a little girl embracing life.

Read Jeremy's Story


As a teenager, the only things that should have been on Jeremy’s mind were doing well in high school, playing sports and spending time with friends. But after increasing fatigue and constant illness, Jeremy was diagnosed with advanced liver disease. Jeremy’s parents, Michael and April, took him to a number of hospitals across the country, and they all offered the same grim news: Jeremy had few options and even less time to get the lifesaving liver transplant he desperately needed.

Michael and April refused to accept the possibility their son might lose his battle against time. They turned to the living liver donor program at University Hospital – the only program of its kind in South Texas. Here, our team performed the complex transplant procedure that allowed Michael to donate a portion of his liver to Jeremy and give him a second chance at life. Within weeks, both Jeremy and Michael’s livers grew back to 100 percent, and now both father and son are living the active life they love.

At University Health System, we don’t just see what is – a failing liver. We see what can be – a new beginning.

Read Sebastian's Story


Sebi was only 2 months old when he had his first seizure. At the time, doctors told Sebi’s parents that it was a type of seizure caused by a high fever. Sebi’s parents thought it was a one-time occurrence and that he was in the clear – and for many years, he was. Active and into baseball, Sebi was like any other kid, having fun and enjoying life. But when Sebi was 9, his parents’ worst nightmare came true. He had another seizure.

Sebi was rushed to University Hospital, the highest-rated epilepsy center in South Texas. He was admitted to the epilepsy monitoring unit, where our neurology team used EEG technology to track his brain activity around the clock. This time, the data showed that Sebi had epilepsy. Determined to give Sebi the best quality of life possible, the neurology team developed a treatment plan that stabilized his seizures. Today, Sebi can do anything and everything he wants to. But most importantly, he can just be a kid.

At University Health System, we don’t just see what is – a boy with epilepsy. We see what can be – an all-star leading his team to victory.

Read Anthony's Story


Six hours after Anthony was born, a massive stroke destroyed the entire right side of his brain. Against all odds, the left side of his brain took over, and Anthony gained the motor control that would let him live a normal life. Then, at age five, he was struck by the first of many grand mal epileptic seizures. Medications controlled the seizures for a while. But after Anthony graduated from high school, the seizures returned with disabling frequency. He was told, “There’s nothing more we can do.”

But the Level IV Epilepsy Center team at University Health System was thinking beyond. There was one last hope: temporal lobe resection, a radical surgery to remove part of his brain. With Anthony’s catastrophic brain damage, it would be highly dangerous…and there was only a 5% chance the surgery would succeed. But Anthony was willing to take that risk. That was five years ago. Now Anthony enjoys a full life, free of epilepsy. His case had been hopeless. But the Epilepsy team at University Health System saw a glimmer of hope and took action. Anthony beat the odds again.

Read Sandra's Story


Twenty years ago, Sandra, a singer with a master’s in vocal performance was singing a hymn on the radio when she began to cough. So started her long battle with life-threatening lung issues. Over the years she went through batteries of tests. No one could find the reason for her lung problems. This talented singer was reduced to living on oxygen 24 hours a day.

Then, Sandra caught a cold and her health began to decline rapidly. Her pulmonologist referred her to the lung transplant team at University Health System. Thinking beyond a diagnosis, the lung transplant team knew that only a transplant could save Sandra’s life. Shortly after her surgery was approved, the call came that a donor lung had been found.

With a prayer for her donor and his family, she underwent surgery immediately. Her recovery went well. And just ten days after surgery, Sandra walked out of the hospital, savoring a deep breath of fresh air for the first time in twenty years.

Read Jennifer's Story


Jennifer was 27 and expecting her first child when her heart began beating out of control. It was atrial fibrillation – Afib – a condition where the heart’s natural rhythms spin wildly out of sync. It was a scary episode that returned during her second pregnancy and took over her life. The slightest thing could set off her irregular heart beat. A doorbell. A dropped dish. A barking dog.

They were a family living on pins and needles. Fortunately, the Heart and Vascular Institute team at University Health System looked beyond the standard treatments and offered Jennifer hope. The team proposed a complex, hybrid procedure to bring Jennifer’s irregular heart beat back into normal rhythm. The Afib episodes stopped immediately, allowing Jennifer and her family the chance to build a normal, active - and noisy -life together. Today, thanks to the experience and expertise of the Heart and Vascular Institute team, this and other life saving treatments are available. A year ago, Jennifer’s life was a roller coaster. Today, she rides them.

Read Teresa's Story


Fifteen years ago, Teresa's liver was failing. She was told her only hope for life would be a liver transplant. Teresa was placed on the transplant list and began the potentially long wait for a donor liver. The transplant team at University Health System was thinking beyond. Because of the unique expertise of the transplant team, Teresa had another life-saving option: a living donor. If she could find a volunteer willing and able to donate half of their living organ to Teresa, they could perform a living donor liver transplant.

Teresa had devoted her life to helping others as a member of the sheriff’s department. When they learned of her situation, twenty people immediately volunteered for major surgery to save Teresa’s life.

But Teresa became ill and was too sick for the transplant. So the team at University Health System made it their mission to make Teresa healthy enough for surgery. It took a year. Her friend Mark was selected as the donor: the right age, the right blood type, her perfect match.

And today, because the transplant team at University Health System looked beyond standard treatments, Teresa has an exceptional second chance at life.