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Rare In-Utero Surgery Gave Nathan a Chance at Life

When Katie was 20 weeks pregnant with her second son, she went in for what she expected to be a routine anatomy ultrasound. However, when the maternal/fetal specialist saw an enlarged aorta, Katie was referred to

Sibley Heart Center Cardiology. She and husband James learned that their baby had a Unicuspid Aortic Valve, moderate stenosis, and evolving Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).

Nathan’s blood flow was restricted, and his little heart was pumping extra hard because of it, leading to severe damage to his left ventricle. Sibley pediatric cardiologist Christopher Petit, MD, explained to Katie and James what an aortic valvuloplasty involved.

I can’t describe the emotions I felt at that appointment, because it was overwhelming,” Katie said. “I just wanted him to be okay. We were totally unaware of CHDs and how common they are, so it helped to have the caring doctors and staff at Sibley available to answer our questions and explain things to us every step of the way. We knew Nathan was in the best hands possible.”

Sibley continued to regularly monitor Nathan’s heart, and his parents held their breath as they watched his stenosis progress from mild/moderate to severe. As the severity increased, they were referred Boston Children’s Hospital for a risky in-utero surgery to salvage the function of his left ventricle.

The surgery was successful, paving the way for Dr. Petit to perform a second life-saving aortic-valvuloplasty 6 days after Nathan was born in Atlanta.

“In those dark waters we found ourselves walking through, we felt the love of God in the outpouring of friends and family, in the prayers lifted up for Nathan and our family, and in the care the doctors took of Nathan,” Katie said. “God is good, even when we think our circumstances are not.”

Nathan, now 2, continues to be monitored by his pediatric cardiologist, Brooke Lewis, MD, and has done exceedingly well, not yet needing further intervention. Katie anticipates her son will need a valve replacement in the future, but for now, she says they are taking life one step at a time.

Katie and James named Nathan as soon as they found out he was a boy, well before they knew about the road that lay ahead.

“He is Nathan Uriah. Nathan, meaning “gift from God,” and Uriah, meaning “God is my fire,” Katie said. “And he is just that, a gift from God, and I pray he lives his life with God as his fire. Nathan’s heart has been used to shape so many others already, and I trust God will continue to use his precious heart in mighty ways.”

For more information about Sibley Heart Center Cardiology and our pediatric cardiology specialists, click here.

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