You may remember Renee Peerless from the ABC documentary Boston Med, which aired last summer and featured several Children’s families and clinicians. After Renee’s unborn son, Sam, was prenatally diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), an ABC camera crew followed Renee constantly, highlighting the care required to help a baby born with a heart defect survive the delicate first few days of life. In the following post Renee relives the experience and talks about how the fetal diagnosis of Sam’s condition made an extremely trying situation easier to deal with.
For Renee Peerless, the decision to have genetic testing done during a routine ultrasound had more to do with her husband Jake than her unborn child. Jake, a solider stationed in Iraq, was overseas for most of Renee’s pregnancy, so she initially saw the testing as a chance to have more images to share with him. “Jake felt like he was missing a lot so I wanted more pictures of Sam to send him,” she says. “I knew testing was a good precautionary measure, but my real motivation was getting a few extra ultrasound pictures.”
But as it turned out, the tests revealed that there was something seriously wrong with Sam’s heart. In a matter of minutes Renee went from giddy anticipation to the terror of learning that her unborn son’s health was in serious jeopardy. “It was like my whole world was falling apart,” she says.
The next week Renee met with a pediatric cardiologist in her home state of Connecticut and was told that Sam had a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped, limiting its ability to pump blood.
“It was so much to take in all at once,” she says. “I didn’t even know what a congenital heart defect was and all of the sudden it was all I could think about.” …
Cardiac surgeon Francis Fynn-Thompson, MD, has had a busy year. First, he and his patient Sara Dumas were featured on the ABC program Boston Med when he transplanted a new heart into Sara. Now, he’s back in his home country of Ghana, where he’s leading a team of doctors, nurses and volunteers in an ongoing mission to perform much-needed open-heart surgery on children with complex heart conditions in a country with no pediatric cardiac surgeons.
Follow the efforts of the team as they blog from the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, Ghana. They’ve already gone through the grueling decision day (where the doctors and nurses decide which children are good candidates for surgery and which are not) and have operated on the first group of patients. Now begin full days of surgery, recovery and evaluation on kids whose lives will be changed forever by the Children’s team.
Dr. Fynn-Thompson and his mission to Ghana were featured on Good Morning America in 2008. Read the story and watch the piece by Dr. Tim Johnson here.
And, here, watch a video, created in the spring of 2008, in which Dr. Fynn-Thompson describes the mission.
Remember Amy Rucki? She’s the high school student who survived a brain tumor after extensive care at Children’s Hospital Boston. Her 8 hour procedure to remove the tumor was filmed for ABC’s medical documentary series Boston Med, but the footage never made it on TV. But as Amy’s strong recovery proves, she’s resilient; it took more than a trip to the cutting room floor to stop her from sharing her inspirational story with the world. The 17 year-old wrote an amazing blog post for Thrive, giving our readers insight to what it’s like to be a neurosurgery survivor at such a young age, and provide hope for other families dealing with surgery and hospitalization.
Now that she’s on the mend Amy is volunteering at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, working with kids and teenagers who are also on the road to recovery. As a high school senior she’s gearing up for college and says the care she received at Children’s has inspired her to go into the medical field. She’s currently looking into nursing programs at local colleges and getting excited about the possibilities the future holds for her. Here’s a video update on Amy’s status, her volunteering efforts and plans for the future. We couldn’t be more proud, please join us in saying, “thanks for giving back Amy!”
Last night’s Boston Med episode marked the end of the critically acclaimed series. In honor of the show’s conclusion, we put together a video compilation of some our favorite Children’s Hospital Boston moments from the program.