Babies Heart Fund - Celebrating our Advancements in Pediatric Cardiology

February 13, 2024
Milo standing with Flower

The news of a cardiac abnormality in a child is rattling, but thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our researchers and clinicians, so many of these kids are leading active, healthy lives. Every day, our doctors in Pediatric

Cardiology continue to forge close relationships with the children they care for and their families. Each year, our community gathers together at the Babies Heart Fund Gala to celebrate those achievements, and to support the work that will ensure that outcomes for the next generations of children will be even better.

The Gala is a chance for families to reconnect with the doctors who cared for their children. It’s an opportunity to hear updates from our clinics and labs, and it’s also a chance for families to get a glance at the team, and the technologies, many often unseen, that make these happy outcomes possible.

It was at last year’s Gala, in fact, that Lisa and Cameron Kiser, whose son Milo had such a positive outcome, came to learn that it was innovations in 3-D printing, pioneered by Kanwal Farooqi, MD, that made this possible. Dr. Farooqi was honored at last year’s Babies Heart Fund Gala – she creates models of the hearts of babies in utero, so that her colleagues in surgery will be well prepared to correct abnormalities as quickly and completely as possible. So the gala brought Lisa Kiser her Eureka moment – it wasn’t just an outstanding Columbia physician who was being honored. It was one instrumental in helping her child.

When Lisa was twenty weeks pregnant, she and Cameron got some tough news about her pregnancy: an ultrasound revealed that one of the chambers of Milo’s heart was bigger than it should have been. Further tests revealed that Milo had coarctation of the aorta – a narrowing of one of the principal blood vessels of the heart, something that at birth would require immediate surgical intervention.

Lisa and her family started asking around about the best place for care, and Columbia clearly was the destination for them.

Stephanie Purisch, MD, in Columbia’s Division of Maternal and Fetal Medicine, headed up the team that looked after Lisa and Milo –fetal echocardiograms confirmed the issue, and Dr. Purisch and her colleagues sprung into action – ensuring that Lisa’s delivery was a healthy one, and that Milo would immediately get the intervention that he would require.

“What I found amazing at Columbia is that they were such a strong team,” Lisa remarked. “Everybody was so kind, and helpful, and it felt like I was in such great hands. Everything was coordinated, everyone knew what was going on.”

In many respects, the waiting for the family was the roughest element. But as the family waited, Dr. Farooqi created a 3-D model of Milo’s heart -- which guided the preparation of Emile Bacha, MD, the pediatric cardiac surgeon who would be operating on Milo shortly after birth.

“We’re able to create a digital model of a baby’s heart while the baby is still in utero, which we can share with our surgeons – allowing us all to plan on how best to help a baby like Milo when he arrives,” said Dr. Farooqi about her work.

Milo was born on the 18th of March – it may sound like a small thing, but Lisa remembers being so grateful to be able to hold her baby before he was readied for surgery, which took place two days later. And everything went according to plan – with the support of Dr. Farooqi’s model and the rest of the team at Columbia, Dr. Bacha and his surgical staff were able to repair Milo’s cardiac abnormality. Mother and child went home ten days later.

That was two years ago – and now Milo is a sweet and thriving little boy. Lisa was particularly appreciative of the advice that she got about her son from Dr. Bacha: treat him like a normal little boy. And she and her family are grateful to everyone on the Columbia team –everything from the surgery that helped heal Milo, to the staff on the ward that made sure the Red Rooster deliveries arrived without a hitch. ““Every day they got us through to the next day,” she says. “For something that could be so traumatizing, they handled it so well, let us know what was happening, guiding us along.”

To learn more about the Babies Heart Fund, and how you can become involved, please click here