Family of “little angel” thankful for Driscoll Heart Center
Marcie Lawson of Odem was just 20 weeks pregnant when Driscoll maternal fetal specialists conducted an ultrasound and found that her baby girl Mia had a heart that would require surgery within the first several months of her life.
Mia’s diagnosis – complete atrioventricular septal defect, also known as an AV canal defect – is a condition in which the walls between all four chambers of the heart did not form completely, leaving space for blood to mix between them. The problems with this condition are mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood, too much blood going to the lungs, and the pumping chamber of the heart having to work harder. With a family history of heart issues, Marcie left the ultrasound feeling scared and stressed.
In addition, AV canal defect is often associated with Down syndrome and the potential for other structural abnormalities for the baby – this was the case with Mia. Maternal fetal specialists help expectant mothers deal with difficult pregnancies, and help prepare them for the future.
“I think we try very diligently to make sure the family works through the discovery process and gets prepared for the slightly different newborn experience of a baby with special needs,” said Ron Jaekle, MD, a maternal fetal specialist at Driscoll Children’s Hospital.
Marcie and her husband Matt then met with Stephen M. Langley, MD, FRCS (Cth), FETCS, Cardiothoracic Surgeon and Medical Director of the Heart Center at Driscoll Children’s Hospital, who would be the surgeon performing the procedure.
After delivery, Mia was closely followed by Garbiñe Goya, MD, CEPS, FACC, FAAP, Pediatric Cardiologist at the Heart Center. When the time came and Mia was five months old, she underwent repair of complete atrioventricular septal defect.
Dr. Langley found Marcie and Matt immediately after the surgery and told them the surgery had gone well.
“Her heart is as close to perfect as it can get to being a normal heart, and we are so very thankful for Dr. Langley and Dr. Goya,” said Marcie.
Teamwork before, during and after the surgery was critical. Marcie said she greatly appreciated the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) team for all their hard work and efforts in taking care of Mia.
“Everyone has been so sweet and encouraging. However, Dr. Langley and Dr. Goya quickly became more than just doctors to our family. They quite honestly were our heroes during this process,” said Marcie.
What’s more, the Lawson Family set out to help other families going through similar experiences.
“Mia required a feeding tube and the tape would leave rashes and sores on her skin. We did so much research and decided to create our own,” said Marcie.
Marcie and Matt created a patented hypoallergenic medical tube securement to help children like Mia, whose skin is too sensitive for regular adhesives. While Mia no longer has a feeding tube, Driscoll Children’s Hospital is able to provide other babies with this safe and gentle solution for their fragile skin, thanks to the Lawsons.
Mia continues to visit Driscoll for routine evaluations and attends regular checkups with her cardiologist, in addition to weekly sessions at Driscoll for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
Marcie and Matt could not be happier with the love and care they receive from everyone involved in Mia’s care.
“Having Driscoll so close to home means a lot to us,” said Marcie. “It eases our mind knowing that we have a good support system behind us when it comes to the doctors at Driscoll. They have helped my husband and I get through the most difficult times in our lives.”
Today, Marcie describes Mia as a little diva, happy and full of life. “We have been completely blessed with this little angel. She already lights up the room to anyone who walks in.”