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Teamwork repairs a baby’s heart defect

When Marlo and David Greenfield found out their eagerly awaited baby girl would need cardiac surgery soon after birth, they were relieved to be referred to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. "Knowing we would be at one of the best hospitals in the nation, with doctors and nurses that strictly deal with children and pregnant women, was reassuring," David told me when I interviewed the couple for a story on the hospital's website. What the couple didn't initially realize was how many different types of experts would play a role in baby Kennedy's care.

While Marlo was still pregnant, Kennedy's heart was evaluated by physicians from the hospital's Fetal and Pregnancy Health Program, who determined that her aortic arch was unusually small and would require repair. As soon as Kennedy was born, a team of neonatologists and cardiac intensivists -- pediatric cardiologists who specialize in ICU care -- began working together to ensure she was getting enough oxygen and reaching the right milestones before surgery. At a week old, she was ready to go to the OR:

In a five-hour procedure, Katsuhide Maeda, MD, clinical associate professor of cardiothoracic surgery, and his team put Kennedy on a heart-lung bypass machine and carefully removed the too-small portion of her aortic arch. Once the abnormally narrow region of blood vessel was gone, Maeda reconstructed an aortic arch from her own blood vessel tissue. 'This is a relatively straightforward procedure for our team,' Maeda said. Kennedy did well, staying for four days in the cardiovascular intensive care unit, and then transferring back to the neonatal intensive care unit. Her multidisciplinary care team followed her the whole time. 'Every time we spoke to someone, they knew exactly what was going on with Kennedy,' Marlo said. 'Every single person was on the same page. They really knew what they were doing and had it under control.'

Today, as a result of the well-coordinated care Kennedy received, she's home with her family and doing great. "She’s absolutely beautiful, very content and happy," David said. "Of course, I’m a little biased, but I think she’s perfect in every way."

Previously: Pinpointing specific cells may help thwart congenital heart disease, new research shows, Complex procedure helps teen with rare congenital heart defect and World-first treatment for rare heart defect saves baby born at Packard Children's
Photo courtesy of the Greenfield family

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