Doriana Musselman and her husband, Nathan, went to Lancaster General Heath Physicians Maternal-Fetal Medicine for a routine 21-week ultrasound and learned that she was carrying a boy. They were also told that the technician was unable to get good pictures of the baby’s heart, which was troubling.
Pediatric Subspecialty Care at Lancaster General Health
They were referred to a pediatric cardiologist from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who provides care locally at Lancaster General Health through a collaborative agreement between the two hospitals. There, they received the news that their baby had a rare, complex congenital heart defect.
“They diagnosed my son with double inlet left ventricle. Basically, the two upper chambers of his heart are the same size, but one of his left lower chambers is large and his right one is really small, so it really messes up the blood flow,” said Doriana.
To save their baby’s life, he would have to undergo three surgeries: the first when he was 32 hours old, the second around the six-month mark, and the third when he was three years old.
Doriana was scheduled for inducement at the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit in Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which is the world’s first birth facility in a pediatric hospital specifically designed for mothers carrying babies with known birth defects.
Baby Emmett was delivered by an emergency C-section, because his umbilical cord was around his neck. Within a few minutes, he was taken to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, just down the hall.
“It was tough to see him hooked up to all those monitors and wires and drainage tubes. He was a champ, though. He was so strong,” Doriana recalled.
Bringing Emmett Home
“It was so scary. We brought him home knowing that we couldn’t really pick him up very well. He was very delicate, but we got through it. He just kept growing and growing,” said Nathan.
At home, Emmett’s parents weighed him daily and measured his blood oxygen levels to track his progress and detect any signs of heart failure. When his oxygen level started dropping, they brought him right to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where he was quickly admitted for his second open-heart surgery. Though ahead of schedule, the procedure went well and the family was home by the following week.
“Now that he's getting older, I can just envision him as a normal kid, running around, playing, and doing what any other kid wants to do. To us, he doesn't feel like he has a heart defect. He just feels like an average kid,” said Nathan.
A Bright Future Ahead
Emmett will need another procedure soon. “They’ll have to put in either a stent or balloon, because he has a narrowing in one of his arteries. They just have to open that up and make it a little bigger so that the blood flows better,” he added.
Today, Emmett is doing great, receiving ongoing care with specialists from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, at LG Health’s Suburban Pavilion, close to the Musselmans’ home in Lancaster.
“The fact that there is an office here in our hometown of Lancaster is amazing,” said Doriana.
“Without the doctors and nurses and everybody at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we wouldn’t have our baby boy. Without Lancaster General Health, we wouldn't have known about his diagnosis beforehand. We are just so grateful to everybody at both locations,” she added.