Fetal Medicine Unit featured in The Telegraph 

22/02/2016 00:00 
Five years ago, a team from the Fetal Medicine Unit led by Professor Donald Peebles and Mr Pran Pandya saved the life of journalist Olivia Gordon's unborn son. Last August, Olivia came back to the unit for three days to observe the work of the team and write about it.

Picture shows, from left, specialist doctor Fred Ushakov, FMU clinical lead and consultant Pranav Pandya; midwife Nacho Rosas; subspecialty trainee in maternal fetal medicine Ruth Curry; Women's Health divisional clinical director and consultant Professor Donald Peebles; consultant George Attilakos; psychotherapist Claudia De Campos; midwife Georgina Fox; MSc student Hadijat Raji and midwife Nicola Gist. Picture credit: Kitty Gale, www.kittygale.co.uk


The result was an article in The Telegraph last Saturday in which Olivia wrote:

"I stand at the foot of the bed watching, and memories come back from my own similar experience here, nearly five years ago, when another specialist, Professor Donald Peebles, pushed a shunt – a coiled plastic drainage tube – into my unborn baby’s thorax to save his life."

Olivia's son Humphrey is now an energetic five-year-old who has just started school but, at 29 weeks’ gestation, was diagnosed with hydrops fetalis, in which the baby’s lymphatic system fails and fluid builds up around the organs.

The only potential treatment was emergency fetal surgery to drain the excess fluid from the baby’s chest by inserting a plastic tube into the chest cavity under ultrasound guidance.

Humphrey was born at 32 weeks and was cared for by neonatologists Giles Kendall, Sian Harding and Judith Meek and Leah Healy, neonatal intensive care nurse.

Olivia has stayed in touch with Prof Peebles and Mr Pandya ever since.

"As a patient, I used to sit in the waiting room and look at the other patients as they were ushered behind the closed doors of the consulting rooms and wondered what was going on in there. Now, thanks to my own history, Mr Pandya has allowed me, as a journalist, unprecedented access to observe three days at the unit – sitting in on dozens of consultations behind closed doors during this time," she wrote.

During her visit, Olivia learns she is not alone in wanting "to revisit the unit after a brief traumatic time here". Psychologist Claudia De Campos says many former patients like to visit, "it’s a form of catharsis, of digesting a surreal, sudden past experience".

The fetal medicine unit at UCLH is one of the leaders in the field, set up by fetal medicine pioneer Professor Charles Rodeck. The unit is made up of a team of highly-skilled specialists, and offers individualised care for pregnant women and their families, when there is a concern for the health of an unborn baby. It deals with some 7,000 visits per year and about 1,000 procedures are carried out within the unit.

The full article in The Telegraph can be read here.

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