PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thanks to surgical innovations, a rare but serious heart defect no longer is deadly for newborns. But as those patients age, complications are emerging. Now, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has started a new program to help them deal with such issues.

Every year in the U.S., about 3,000 children are born with a single ventricle heart defect – meaning only one of their heart’s pumping chambers is big or strong enough to get the blood where it needs to go.

Over the past three decades, surgeons have learned how to cheat nature and re-route circulation. But in doing so, Children’s Hospital professor of pediatrics Dr. Jack Rychik says new challenges arise.

“So many of these children are now thriving and surviving, but we’re beginning to appreciate there can be complications with the liver, intestine, and exercise intolerance.”

CHOP’s new Single Ventricle Survivorship Program is open to patients across the country.

Rychik says doctors of a host of specialties are researching and will develop and tailor therapies. “Our goal is to create a normal quality and a normal duration of life.”

Reported By Ian Bush, KYW Newsradio

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