Heart condition requiring surgery identified after birth at Winthrop
"On March 28, 2004 my husband Keith and I were blessed with the best day of our lives, but it was also the most difficult day," said Lynn Franz, a Winthrop-University Hospital Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) nurse and new mom of little Kaylee Franz.
Within minutes of her birth at the Hospital's New Life Center earlier this year, Kaylee had difficulty breathing and was placed on a respirator. Doctors from Winthrop's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) quickly diagnosed her with Tetralogy of Fallot, a combination of four related heart defects that commonly occur together, and always require open heart surgery to correct. "We understood that Kaylee would not survive without the surgery," Lynn explained.
The NICU nurses and doctors leaped into action and stabilized Kaylee in preparation for surgery. "Winthrop's skilled nurses, neonatologists and pediatric cardiology specialists quickly assessed and stabilized Kaylee, providing the critical care that she needed so desperately," said Donna Better, MD, Winthrop Pediatric Cardiologist.
Dr. Better, working with fellow pediatric cardiologist Carlos Montoya-Iracheta, MD, then transferred the infant to New York Presbyterian Children's Hospital for surgery. The transfer was ideal not only because of Winthrop's long-standing relationship with the hospital's pediatric cardiac surgery team, but more importantly, both Drs. Better and Montoya hold academic appointments at New York Presbyterian. "For continuity of care, both Dr. Montoya and I were able to evaluate Kaylee during her time at both hospitals -- that was key," Dr. Better explained.
Thanks to the quick diagnosis and treatment minutes after her birth at Winthrop, Kaylee is a healthy baby growing stronger every day.
"The days following the surgery seemed like an endless nightmare," Lynn explained. "The doctors and nurses all told us, 'before it gets better it will get worse,' and that was certainly true."
Kaylee fought. And after many prayers from family, friends and even people Lynn and Keith never met, she turned the corner on Easter Sunday. "For such a little baby, it was remarkable how much strength she had," said Dr. Better.
When she was again stabilized, Kaylee was transferred back to Winthrop's new, highly-sophisticated NICU, a Regional Perinatal Center (RPC), for rehabilitation. "We were greeted with open arms," said Lynn. "I cannot say enough for the support our entire family received from Winthrop. It will never be forgotten."
Drs. Better and Montoya kept watch over Kaylee as she recuperated. "We treat every patient like they're one of our own family," she said. "Kaylee recuperated beautifully given the odds she faced."
The big day Lynn had waited for came a week later. "Having worked in Winthrop's SICU for the past eight years I have many good memories, including looking out the windows and seeing the new babies being discharged from the hospital with their parents," she explained. "Keith and I prayed for this day, and it finally arrived."
After many hugs and thanks to the NICU staff, the family of three was on their way home. Lynn will never forget the send-off they received. Her friends from the SICU lined up outside the hospital while others shouted congratulations and waved from the windows. "That day will be imprinted in our hearts forever," she reflected. "One of the reasons I remain working in the SICU at Winthrop is because we are one big family."
She's our little miracle
Today, Kaylee is growing stronger every day. "She is our little miracle and we are so blessed to have her," Lynn said. "She puts a smile on everyone's face.
"I cannot say enough for the support our entire family received from Winthrop," she added. "My husband and I, along with our families, will be forever grateful to everyone for saving our daughter's life."