Stories about: Fetal Cardiology Program

A diagnosis of Down syndrome motivates a family to go the extra mile

Mae, who has Down syndrome, sits on the bottom of a slide. As she leaves nursery school at the end of each day, Mae Tapley blows kisses to every person she passes on her way to the door. For her mother, Susie, watching teachers and staff step out into the hall to wave to her daughter is a welcome change. Three years ago, when Mae was born with Down syndrome, it seemed like no one knew what to say to her.

“When you have a typical child, people tell you how beautiful they are,” says Susie. “With Mae, no one told us she was beautiful or that she would have a full life until we came to Boston Children’s Hospital. They believed in her from the first day.”

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Against all odds: Colin’s biventricular repair

Colin, who had a biventricular repair, climbs onto the table during his office visit.

Catherine and Julio Pita were already seasoned parents when they learned they were expecting their sixth child. But when an ultrasound at Catherine’s 16-week prenatal visit showed their baby had a hole in his heart, they were surprised and unprepared.

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Hope for Kevin’s heart: Five-year-old shines after novel treatment for Ebstein’s anomaly

Kevin, who was born with Ebstein's anomaly, practices his dance moves.As the lights dimmed and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” blasted from loudspeakers, Kevin Nolan III took to the stage for his very first dance recital. Sporting striped pants, a turquoise bow tie and a black top hat, Kevin joined his class in performing two hip-hop jazz routines to a packed house. Kevin’s mood was perfectly in step with the song’s lyrics.

“He had so much fun,” says Kevin’s mom, Laura. “He said he can’t wait to get on stage again.”

While a first dance recital is a big deal for any 5-year-old, it’s especially poignant for Kevin, who was diagnosed prenatally with Ebstein’s anomaly, a rare heart condition that causes leakage of the tricuspid valve and backup of blood flow into the heart. Kevin also had pulmonary valve regurgitation, which was stealing blood flow away from his essential organs. His condition was so severe that when it was first discovered during a prenatal ultrasound, doctors at a hospital in Boston said he might not survive.

“We met with a heart specialist who told us we should just say goodbye,” says Kevin’s dad, Kevin Jr. “He said nothing could be done.”

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Prenatal diagnosis sets James up for success

james-tetralogy-of-fallotI remember it like yesterday. Pregnant with my first child, I went to my 9-week scheduled ultrasound not really knowing what to expect. I heard a little baby’s heartbeat in my belly! I was blown away.

When you go for your 18-week ultrasound, make sure your baby’s heart is checked. A simple scan can change everything. ~ Elizabeth

At the 18-week scan, it appeared that the baby only had one kidney. The doctor seemed to think that everything else was normal, but he told me I had the option to make an appointment at Boston Children’s Hospital for a fetal echocardiogram. My husband had to work that day, so my mother came with me. I truly was not concerned.

Little did I know that my life was about to change forever, and all because of a simple scan that I almost didn’t receive.

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