Ann Schutzman was excited to find out the sex of her first born at 19 weeks.
“We were able to find out a whole week early,” Ann said.
However, when that routine ultrasound indicated a defect in the wall of the baby girl’s abdomen, a condition called gastroschisis, that sense of excitement quickly turned to fear and anxiety.
I was devastated," said Ann. “I am a nurse, so I am usually very practical and level headed, but I heard that my baby had gastroschisis and I was completely shattered.”
"I am a nurse, so I am usually very practical and level headed, but I heard that my baby had gastroschisis and I was completely shattered."
Gastroschisis, a birth defect involving the abdominal wall area, causes the fetal bowel to extend into the amniotic fluid space through a small opening in the abdomen. The herniation can cause the unprotected bowel to be damaged. The bowel also may not function well after birth. Surgery is needed to correct the defect.
“Dr. Finley confirmed the gastroschisis on an ultrasound in his office,” Ann said. “He was very confident that we could receive the treatment we needed and reassured us that the pediatric surgeon at Overland Park Regional Medical Center would be able perform the repair for our child. His care and confidence allayed our fears.”
Ann and her husband, Josef, met with Corey Iqbal, MD, Director of Pediatric and Fetal Surgery, at the Maternal Fetal Health Center, and they discussed a plan for their baby.
“Ann was followed closely by the team at the Maternal Fetal Health Center throughout her pregnancy because babies with gastroschisis have a higher rate of complications during the pregnancy,” Dr. Iqbal said, “In Ann’s case the pregnancy became complicated by low amniotic fluid, a condition known as oligohydramnios.”
“Around 34 weeks, I went in for a routine scan and Dr. Finley immediately admitted me to the Antepartum Unit at the hospital because my amniotic fluid was low,” said Ann. “I had to be monitored very closely. “
The team of specialists at the Maternal Fetal Health Center began to work with Ann and create a plan to take care of her health needs and bring her baby into the world as healthy as possible.
“During that time, I was able to have my baby shower in the hospital on the antepartum unit,” Ann said. “It meant a lot to me for my family to see that my physicians had the capability to take care of me and my baby.”
Ann and her husband met with Dr. Iqbal on multiple occasions to discuss how he would surgically correct the gastroschisis and what the implications would be for their baby as she grew.
“I scheduled my C-section at 36 weeks and the plan was once the baby was born, she would immediately go into surgery,” Ann said.
At birth, the baby’s large and small intestines were outside her abdomen. Dr. Iqbal immediately performed surgery and the intestines were returned to her abdomen. The opening was closed surgically and a belly button created for her.
“Florine was born and we were able to operate on her within minutes of her delivery while Ann was recovering,” Dr. Iqbal said. “Prior to going to surgery, Ann and Josef were able to immediately bond with their daughter and they were able to be reunited about 60 minutes later.”
Although the surgery was successful, Florine’s digestive system had to start working and she received her nutrition through a specialized IV until she could start eating.
Florine spent less than four weeks in the Level III NICU at Overland Park Regional Medical Center, which is led by Neonatologist Kathleen Weatherstone, MD.
“As a nurse, I did a lot of research on where I was going to have Florine, and once I found Overland Park Regional Medical Center, I knew this was the place for Florine and I,” Ann said. “I was able to get the care I needed while I was pregnant, Florine was able to be monitored and after I delivered, we were able to stay together under one roof.”
“Our goal is to keep families together, and that is what we accomplished with Florine and Ann,” Dr. Iqbal said. “No parents want to be separated from their critically ill baby and that is why we have a comprehensive Maternal Fetal Health Center at Overland Park Regional Medical Center.”