Infant Who Lost Battle With Congenital Heart Defect Has Lasting Impact

Though he was just a tiny baby who lived a short life, Theo Schlicht has made a big impact.

Born at 32 weeks weighing 3 pounds 3 ounces, Theo had a critical congenital heart defect that required almost immediate open-heart surgery. He was also diagnosed with pulmonary valve stenosis, multiple ventricular septal defects and other genetic anomalies.

After 6 months of a lot of ups and downs from his health hurdles, Theo, unfortunately, passed away in March 2018. Inspired by her son, Callie Chiroff founded a nonprofit organization called Project Bubaloo to raise awareness for pediatric congenital heart disease and fund research. Bubaloo was Theo’s nickname.

“I just felt like he came here for a reason and he knew his time here wasn’t long,” Chiroff told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Project Bubaloo aims to “be the voice of congenital heart disease” and advance “the quality of care to those affected,” she said. “I wanted to do what I could to honor Theo’s life and bring a voice to congenital heart disease that I thought was lacking in the community.”

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common type of birth defect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the United States, about 7,200 babies are born with a critical CHD every year.

Exposure to Toxic Chemicals


Unfortunately, the causes of CHDs among most babies are unknown. Some have heart defects because of changes in their individual genes or chromosomes, the CDC said. A growing number of studies point to a parent’s exposure to toxic chemicals, either in the environment or in the workplace, according to an article published in Pediatric Cardiology.  In particular, maternal exposure to chemicals during the first trimester of pregnancy represents the most critical window of exposure for CHD.

Some CHDs may be diagnosed during pregnancy using an ultrasound called a fetal echocardiogram, which creates ultrasound pictures of the heart of the developing baby, the CDC said. However, some CHDs are not detected until after birth or later in life. Newborn screening for critical CHDs involves a bedside test called pulse oximetry that estimates the amount of oxygen in a baby’s blood. Low levels of oxygen in the blood can be a sign of a critical CHD.

Signs and symptoms for CHDs depend on the type and severity of the particular defect. Some defects might have few or no signs or symptoms. Others might cause a baby to have  blue-tinted nails or lips, fast or troubled breathing, tiredness when feeding and sleepiness.

How We Help Birth Defects Victims

Seek justice with the help of our experienced birth defects attorneys. Our alliance of birth defects victims have represented people like you affected by birth defects caused by toxic exposure, aggressively fighting the corporate giants who failed to protect vulnerable workers. If you or a loved one was exposed to chemicals while pregnant and now have a child who suffers from a life-altering birth defect like spina bifida, muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, we can help.