Dr. Taeun Chang believes babies should get the same neurologic attention and care at the beginning of their life as adults receive towards the end of their lives. “Babies have many decades of living ahead of them,” she says.
Dr. Chang is Director of the Neonatal Neurology and Neurocritical Critical Care Program at Children’s National Hospital, the only such program in our region. The program has six dedicated neonatal neurologists, the largest such group in the world. They employ cutting-edge imaging and diagnostics to detect brain disorders in babies before they are born and after birth.
In 2018, Dr. Chang assembled a pediatric epilepsy team, pediatric neurosurgeons, NICU nurses and Interventional Neurologist Dr. Monica Pearl to perform a delicate procedure, pioneered at Children’s National, on week-old Bella. Bella, from Iowa, suffered up to 20 seizures an hour due to a rare condition called hemimegaloencephaly. Dr. Chang and her team created a series of controlled strokes over a couple of weeks to destroy the unhealthy part of Bella’s brain. She has been seizure-free for three years now and enjoys preschool.
“Everyone likes to attribute success to that one hero, like in a superhero movie. But I feel in real life it’s more about team success,” says Dr. Chang. “That’s one of the things that we excel at here at Children’s National — which makes our newborn program number one — that as a team we help the youngest of the youngest babies survive with the best possible outcome because we must give that baby the best chance at life.”
Note: Dr. Chang passed away during the summer of 2022. We express our sincere condolences to her family, friends, colleagues, patients and mentees who are feeling the profound loss of an incredible physician, scientist, teacher and human being.
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