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Doctors and nurses talk about the Fetal Heart Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. From referral and diagnosis, planning and delivery to treatment and the future, doctors and nurses are making great strides in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart defects. Use the links below to navigate through the series.
Denise D. Donaghue, RN: So many families believe once they have a diagnosis of congenital heart disease that they're going to have to have a C-section and that's just not the reality.
Micahel W. Bebbington, MD: There's very few situations where it's intrinsically necessary to deliver by a Cesarean section.
Jack Rychik, MD: A vaginal delivery is safe, and the mother can go through that normal process.
Denise D. Donaghue, RN: The fact that we're able to deliver babies within our own system in the Special Delivery Unit with our own team of high-risk obstetricians working with us as part of the team is invaluable.
Lynne Ramsay, parent: There was a team for the baby and the team for, you know, monitoring everything that was going on. It was a little overwhelming, but it made--it was comforting to know he was here right away.
Shane Thrush, parent: That was tougher, that's when it really kicks in that this is not going to be a normal delivery.
Jack Rychik, MD: For most circumstances we do have an opportunity to have, perhaps, dad hold the baby for a moment, for mom to look at the baby. But in the vast majority of cases, there will be a need to perform these various procedures, and the baby will then be transferred to the intensive care unit for management. And it's really in the intensive care unit where fams will have their best, most valuable time with the baby.
Anthony Ramsay, parent: Once they did their assessment, you know, then i was at least able to go see him, you know, which was good. You know, he was pink, you know, and everything, so, you know, he looked healthy, you know, from our standpoint but, you know, it was still a joy.
Denise D. Donaghue, RN: It's a huge benefit for mothers and fathers to be able to be geographically close to their babies.
Micahel W. Bebbington, MD: What frequently happens in other institutions is that mothers are cared for in separate hospitals from babies.
Unknown Speaker: The Special Delivery Unit enables the entire family unit to be on site at CHOP.
Jack Rychik, MD: To really integrate the care of these kids from before birth through the birth process into whatever palliation or operation they may need immediately after birth --
Robert E. Shaddy, MD: What this does is allow us to have instant access to these babies who need immediate care, whether it be cardiac care or other care.
Jonathan J. Rome, MD: The space is contiguous with the cardiac operating rooms and catheterization laboratories. So a baby could literally be born in one room and go to the next room for treatment, and the mom is right there. And she's right there before delivery and after delivery.
Sarah Tabbut, MD: So it provides a continuity of care. If there's a problem with the baby in the delivery room, the cardiac intensivist who's going to be taking care of the baby could participate --
Jack Rychik, MD: To assess the baby's cardiovascular system, to place lines into the belly button of the newborn to act as IVs where we can administer medication.
Robert E. Shaddy, MD: And often it's a very shocking situation for families to see their child like this. Now fortunately, we have the ability to take the families to the ICU before hand. So I think the shock value based upon what we can do with the Fetal Heart Program is actually much less.
Andrea Thrush, parent: She was immediately given IV lines and monitors in her bellybutton to watch her heart function and give her medicine.
Denise D. Donaghue, RN: These kids are really stable and that's a good thing to be able to work with families about that. Very rarely is there an emergency that you need to take a baby to the operating room urgently, unexpectedly. More often than not it really is an uneventful birth, if you will, with medications started and the baby goes to a cardiac intensive care unit instead of a newborn nursery. But it's a baby who we're able to keep relatively stable for even a few days until surgery needs to happen.
Contact the Fetal Heart Program for more information