"Keep asking questions until you know whether a hospital is dabbling in pediatric heart cases or is really committed to them," said Fraser, the president of the Houston chapter of the American Heart Association.
Be wary of doctors who discourage a second opinion
Fraser has lost count of the number of parents who call him from another hospital, whispering into their cell phones that they need his help. They're afraid to speak out loud because the hospital they're in has discouraged them from seeking a second opinion.
His message: Don't be afraid. An ethical hospital would never discourage you from getting a second opinion.
"We realize some families have a difficult time getting over the white coat awe," he said. "But it's OK to ask hard questions. We do it in other areas of our lives."
Many families that don't live near a top center decide to travel to one. It's not always easy, especially since heart babies sometimes spend months in the hospital, but many large centers have services to help out-of-towners.
It can sometimes be a struggle to get insurance to pay for a hospital outside your area, but large centers have experience making it work.
Ask advice from parents who've walked in your shoes
This one is particularly important. Other parents have the inside scoop on hospitals -- consult with them!
Spyker, whose son has had four open heart surgeries, recommends starting with Heart Mamas or the community on babycenter.com and asking for advice on groups for your child's specific heart defect.
Remember that you're in charge
Ultimately, it's up to you to arrange the best medical team for your child.
"You have one shot to get a good heart repair," Spyker said.