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Soviet Boy Recovering From Heart Surgery

January 22, 1991

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ A Soviet boy has undergone lifesaving heart surgery and could be released from a hospital this week, said a nurse who helped arrange his medical care.

Konstantin Golub, 10, was operated on Thursday at Children’s Hospital to correct congenital heart defects and was released from intensive care Friday night, said the nurse, Susan Garwood.

″The surgery went beautifully. And he feels wonderful,″ she said. ″His heart is not normal. But he will have more energy and he will be able to run, jump and play ... and he is going to be really hungry.″

Garwood met Konstantin’s mother last summer while participating in a peace walk across the Ukraine. Elena Golub asked Garwood if she could help her son get medical care in the United States because the surgery he needed was not available in his homeland.

The boy arrived in Omaha on Jan. 12.

Although surgeons were not able to replace a valve in Konstantin’s heart as they had hoped to do, they were able to place a shunt between his aorta and left pulmonary artery branch to recycle blood through his lungs and improve his oxygen levels, Garwood said.

According to medical records from the Soviet Union, Konstantin had a congenital heart defect in which one heart valve failed to develop properly. But tests at the Omaha hospital found the boy’s heart also had other serious problems and the shunt offered the best solution, Garwood said.

Konstantin’s lips are now a dark rosy color instead of the oxygen-deprived blue they were when he arrived, said Garwood, who lives in Lincoln.

The shunt should be effective for 20 to 30 years, then it could be replaced or Konstantin could possibly be a candidate for a heart transplant, she said.

Garwood said the boy loves ice cream and has had his first hot dog, which he said was ″lovely.″

She said he has charmed his nurses and everyone else he has met.

″Everybody loves him,″ Garwood said.

His mother is doing well but is exhausted, she said.

After release from the hospital, Konstantin will stay at Garwood’s home in Lincoln while he recuperates.

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