NEW HYDE PARK, NY – Sporting a bright pink and white dress with “Two Months” emblazoned on the front, Aleeah Quezada and her parents recently returned to Cohen Children’s Medical Center to celebrate the day and to thank the doctors who discovered the baby’s congenital heart defect before she was born and corrected it when she was four days old.
Carolina Osorio and her husband, Carlos Quezada, of Flushing, Queens, first learned that there might be problems during the fifth month of Carolina’s pregnancy. During a routine visit, their obstetrician had detected an abnormality on a pre-natal ultrasound. That’s what brought the expectant parents to Preeta Dhanantwari, MD, Director of the Fetal Heart Program at Cohen, who diagnosed the problem.
During a press conference held at the hospital on baby Aleeah’s two-month birthday, Dr. Dhanantwari and the baby’s surgeon, Vincent Parnell, MD, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Cohen, explained the course of events that led to the baby’s open heart surgery.
A fetal echocardiogram (an ultrasound of the heart used to examine the organ’s structure) ordered by Dr. Dhanantwari revealed transposition of the great arteries…a condition in which the blood vessel carrying blood to the lungs and the blood vessel carrying blood to the whole body were connected to the opposite sides of the heart. “This problem leads to a very low level of oxygen in the blood stream immediately after birth,” said Dr. Dhanantwari. “At that time, I explained to the parents that open heart surgery for their child would be necessary in the first week or two of life.”
Carolina explained how frightening it was for expectant parents to hear such news.
“This was the day we became parents,” she said. “We were very scared at first. But, meeting with our doctors gave us a lot of hope that we would be able to repair Aleeah’s problems.”
Carolina was followed by doctors for the remaining four months of her pregnancy. During that time, she met with Dr. Parnell, who explained that open-heart surgery soon after birth would ensure their baby the best possible outcome.
“Transposition of the great arteries occurs 20 to 30 times per 100,000 live births and is the leading cause of ‘blue babies,’” said Dr. Parnell. “To ensure the best outcome, the fetus was followed through the pregnancy in the fetal heart program. In addition, multiple multidisciplinary teams (including obstetricians, perinatologists, cardiologists, surgeons, neonatologists and nurses) were involved in regular discussions to ensure that baby and mother were receiving the best care possible during the pregnancy.”
Dr. Parnell performed a four-hour surgery on Jan. 2.
“The surgery involved using a machine to do the work of the baby’s heart and lungs while the two large arteries and the blood supply to the heart were ‘switched’ to the correct anatomic locations,” he said. “The baby thrived after surgery and was able to return home a few days later.
While the baby napped, her proud parents spoke of the joy they felt at spending this important day with the medical team that saved their daughter’s life.
“We could never have imagined that we would be able to spend Aleeah’s two-month birthday at home. She is a perfectly healthy baby now, and we are looking forward to her future knowing that she will be independent and happy. We’re so proud of her.”
Watching his daughter nap in her safety seat, Carlos added, “She is perfect. Alleah is our miracle baby.”
To watch a video of the press conference, go here.
About the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York
Opened in 1983, the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York is home to about 675 pediatricians, including 170 full-time physicians, and a total workforce of more than 1,200, including more than 500 nurses. For the seventh consecutive year in 2013, CCMC was ranked among the best children’s hospitals in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's 2013-14 “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals” survey.