Taking Cardiac Care to Heart

Dr. Andrew Matisoff cradled 2-month old Evie in his arms and looked down at her before her open heart surgery in 2018. The baby had been diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome, called Williams Syndrome, which led to a narrowing of the blood vessels from her heart. Because of her heart condition, she had a high risk of experiencing problems under anesthesia. The surgery she needed would save her life.

Dr. Matisoff stepped up to the challenge. He had a specific goal when he joined Children’s National almost ten years ago: protecting children like Evie with complex congenital heart disease from the extraordinary danger they face while under anesthesia. As a cardiac anesthesiologist, Dr. Matisoff studies his patients’ physiology and with a multidisciplinary team helped develop what he calls “clinical pearls” to better care for children with Williams syndrome to keep them safe during surgery and anesthesia.

As he held baby Evie before surgery that day, he thought of his kids, six-year old Ally and four-year old Danny. He told Evie’s parents that he’d take care of their child as if she were his own. He would monitor every breath and heartbeat to keep her comfortable and safe.

“You get them through difficult surgeries with good results and it’s a great feeling,” he says. Even better? Reuniting with those he calls “his kids” later on, like he did with Evie and her family in spring of 2019 to film a video that features her story.

“When I see Evie, a beautiful, smiling child—who might not have survived to see her first birthday without surgery, I feel rewarded for our teams’ hard work.” It also inspires him to do more. There’s still so much to discover in pediatric medicine and many questions to answer, he says, especially when it comes to rare diseases, such as Williams Syndrome. This is one way that philanthropy at Children’s National makes a big difference.

“There are many, many complex and rare pediatric diseases that haven’t been addressed,” he says, “and the only way we can solve problems for these kids, and solve them earlier, is through philanthropy that supports research.”

Dr. Matisoff exemplifies the compassionate care our teams provide every day, for every child regardless of illness, injury or ability to pay. Visit our website to learn more about how you can give back to our patients and families at Children’s National.

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