Wearing a summer dress and snuggled in her stroller, 4 ½-month-old Evelyn was fascinated by all the people wandering past her at the 15th Annual Fetal Family Reunion.
With wisps of blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes and rosy cheeks, the baby looked the epitome of health. But this little girl has already been through quite a lot in her young life, said her mom, Andrea, of Hatboro, PA.
When Andrea was pregnant, Evelyn was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot, a serious heart condition, by CHOP cardiologist Anirban Banerjee, MD.
Tetralogy of Fallot has four characteristics: a ventricular septal defect, a hole in the bottom two chambers of the heart; an overriding aorta, where the aorta is on top of both ventricles instead of just one as in a normal heart; pulmonary stenosis, a narrowing of the pulmonary valve; and hypertrophy, where the right ventricle becomes thicker than normal because it is working harder to pump blood through the narrow pulmonary valve.
The prenatal diagnosis allowed the cardiologist to work with other clinical experts at CHOP to plan the safest delivery for mom and baby, and plan for the baby’s surgery after birth.
Andrea delivered the baby at 38 weeks gestation in CHOP’s Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, the first birthing unit in the U.S. created specifically for moms carrying babies with known birth defects.
At 4 days old, Evelyn had her first open heart surgery. A second open-heart surgery was performed when Evelyn was two weeks old, Andrea said.
Cardiac issues weren’t the only challenges Evelyn has faced. She also developed gastroenterology issues that are common secondary illnesses to the cardiac condition.
Again, clinicians at CHOP quickly diagnosed and treated the condition. Attending pediatric surgeon Thane A. Blinman, MD, inserted a G-tube and performed laprascopic surgery for acid reflux.
On Feb. 21, Evelyn went home with her parents and three siblings. She comes back to CHOP for regular checkups, but it seems the worst is over.
“She’s doing great,” Andrea said. “She’s a very happy kid.”
It was the first official reunion for Andrea and Evelyn, but Andrea knows they’ll be back as the infant grows into a toddler and beyond.
“I want the doctors and nurses who treated us to see how great she’s doing,” Andrea said. “We wouldn’t be here without them.”