Toddler undergoes open-heart surgery to put a 'winter coat' inside her heart

This rare heart defect can be treated with Gore-Tex.

Illinois toddler Eloise Hoffman is all set for the cold weather after a "winter coat" was placed inside her heart during surgery when she was just a few days old.

"I like to tell people that she's got a little winter coat in there, keeping her heart warm," her father Matt Hoffman said of a piece of Gore-Tex, a material commonly used in jackets and coats, that was used on Eloise's heart.

It all started when doctors detected that Eloise had a heart murmur during a regular appointment three weeks after she was born. When they went back for a checkup, they knew it was serious.

"We were like, 'Do we schedule a follow-up?,' and [the doctor] said, 'No, you have to go to the hospital now. We may chopper you in or via ambulance.' So then it all sort of sunk in," Hoffman recalled.

Eloise was diagnosed with truncus arteriosus, a rare condition where she was born with only one blood vessel to pump blood out of her heart instead of the usual two. This often causes oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood to mix together, and can cause the lungs to fill with fluid.

"Typically, if this is left untreated, usually this is fatal. Usually within the first year of life," pediatric cardiologist Michael Perez said of Eloise's condition.

Needless to say, her parents were worried.

"Three weeks after she was born, she was going to have this [open-heart] surgery ... so that was terrifying," Eloise's mother Krista Hoffman said.

But the surgery went off without a hitch at Lurie Children's at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, and her parents couldn't be more proud of their resilient little daughter, who just happens to have a small piece of Gore-Tex in her heart now.

The Gore-Tex acts as a conduit to compensate for her singular pathway out of the heart.

"It's like a Columbia coat ... it's visually the same thing. It's all taken care of," Matt Hoffman joked.

She will probably have to have another surgery as she outgrows her current conduit but it's doing great now.

"She's an amazing little munchkin. She's gone through a lot," her mom said. "I think her scar is awesome. I think she should wear it with pride. I think it's a amazing what she went through. She's like a little fireball."