and Karen Bartholet remember the events of February 19, 1998
all too well. Twenty-five weeks into her second pregnancy,
Karen underwent a routine ultrasound at a private hospital
in Charlottesville, VA. As Rob recalls, the procedure took
a long time, and though Rob couldn't make much sense out of
the image on the screen, he could tell that the technician
was lingering over the flickering that could only be the unborn
- - - - - - - - - - -
knew right away something was wrong," says Rob.
fact, there was a long list of things wrong with the boy's
heart: Double outlet right ventricle, pulmonary atresia, criss-crossed
atrial-ventricle blood flow, inferior/superior ventricles,
straddling mitral valve, hypoplastic tricuspid valve, atrial
septal defect and ventricular septal defect.
"I'm a nurse, and I didn't know half of the diagnoses," says
Karen. "They were not even in my book."
knew right away something was wrong."
eight out of every thousand babies are born with a heart defect,
but the Bartholet baby's was an extremely rare diagnosis.
Fewer than five percent of children with heart defects have
conditions so complex, according to Dr. Richard Jonas, Cardiovascular
Surgeon-in-Chief at Boston's Children's Hospital and a professor
of Surgery at Harvard Medical School.
oxygen-poor blood, or "blue" blood, returns from the body
to the heart, which sends it to the lungs to pick up more
oxygen. At the same time, freshly aerated "red" blood returns
from the lungs to the heart, which pumps it out to the body
again. The four separate chambers of the heart keep the used
blue blood separate from the fresh red blood.
newborn Zach's heart, the red and blue blood could intermix,
unlike in this healthy heart
the Bartholet baby, the septal and valve defects meant the
used up blood could mix freely with the fresh blood, lowering
the percentage of oxygen saturated in the boy's blood. But
the pulmonary atresia was perhaps the most dire diagnosis,
meaning the vessel between the boy's heart and lungs was closed
off. The baby's life depended on surgery to bypass this dead-end.
atresia used to be a very, very bad thing to have," says Dr.
Richard Jonas, "It was fatal in the majority of children."
came out in a total state of shock," Rob recalls.
The couple was sent to the teaching hospital at the University
of Virginia, where the doctors outlined a course of action
to take once the baby was born. Until then, Karen's heart
would do the work for the developing baby and she could expect
an uneventful pregnancy.
- - - -
- - - - - - - -
pages: | 1 | 2 | 3
| 4 |