Marie and family resized

Lifesaving Heart Surgery for Marie

Marie and family resized

Marie loves books, running around the playground with her twin sister, Ellee, and family camping adventures.

But life for Marie and her family wasn’t always so idyllic. Mary Donofrio, M.D., medical director of prenatal cardiology at Children’s National Hospital, diagnosed Marie with atrioventricular septal defect a congenital heart defect, when her mom, Karen, was four months pregnant. Marie also had coarctation, a narrowing of a section of the aorta, the tube that carries oxygen-rich blood to the body.

Marie’s parents worried they might lose her. “But Dr. Donofrio and everyone at Children’s National made us feel hopeful about her future,” says Karen. “We were grateful to live so close to a world-class cardiology team."

Marie arrived at our cardiac intensive care unit (CICU) two hours after birth. Twelve days later, Joshua Kanter, M.D., medical director of Interventional Cardiology Can Yerebakan, M.D., associate chief of Cardiac Surgery, performed a rare hybrid open heart surgery. They installed a stint and placed bands around Marie’s pulmonary arteries. Children’s National is one of the only pediatric hospitals in the United States to perform this lifesaving procedure. It would stabilize her until she and her tiny heart was big enough to undergo a full surgical repair.

After two months in the CICU, Marie went home. “The hospital gave us a monitor, scale, seven medications and a tremendous amount of education about how to care for Marie,” Karen says. “We were nervous, but it was the best plan for her growth and development, and for us as a family.”

Kathleen Reid, an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner, checked in daily. “Having Kathleen’s expertise on speed dial made us feel more comfortable caring for Marie at home,” says her dad, Nick.

Dr. Yerebakan performed Marie’s heart repair surgery at 6 months. Ongoing care from her cardiology team will help her grow up with a healthy heart. She also receives care from in urology, hematology and neurology. Today, Marie is full of energy and determination. Her parents do not take any moment with her for granted. “We are forever grateful for the care she received at Children’s National,” says Karen.

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.