Richard O'Shaughnessy, MD
On June 3, 2009, a life threatening drama unfolded at The Ohio State University Medical Center, as specialists performed a special procedure on newborn Janayah Campbell while still attached to her mother’s umbilical cord.
Richard O’Shaughnessy, MD, director of the Fetal Treatment Program at Ohio State’s Medical Center, and his team detected a large growth pressing on Janayah’s airway, which could have jeopardized the baby’s breathing after the umbilical cord was cut. Using a procedure known as EXIT (Ex-Utero Intrapartum Treatment), doctors were able to partially remove baby Janayah from her mother’s womb through Caesarian section, leaving the umbilical cord still attached. This allowed the baby to continue receiving life-sustaining oxygen, blood and nutrients from the placenta while the otolaryngologist placed a breathing tube into her airway to allow her to breathe on her own before the surgeon cut the cord. Janayah was then transported to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where her cyst was successfully drained and treated.
O’Shaughnessy has served as director of the fetal treatment program at Ohio State since 1992. Once a patient’s fetus has received a diagnosis and enters the program, a personalized plan is developed to meet the needs of both mother and child. Patients meet all of the specialists who will be involved in their care. Nurse coordinators work closely with the patient and family to transition smoothly from pregnancy to delivery and care. A multidisciplinary team of maternal-fetal medicine specialists, pediatric surgeons, neonatologists, pediatric cardiologists, anesthesiologists, nurse coordinators, fetal imaging specialists, ear, nose, and throat specialists, Ob/Gyns and prenatal pathologists are also available in the program.
O’Shaughnessy and his team look for early complications through prenatal diagnostic techniques, such as imaging the fetus and drawing tissue and blood samples. Recently, it has become possible to evaluate fetal DNA in some cases by sampling the mother’s blood without invading the fetal space. Some conditions in the fetus are treated in the womb before birth, and others after the baby is born.
The OSU Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital provide comprehensive care for high-risk babies and mothers before, during and after birth. O’Shaughnessy is currently working to expand this level of prenatal care to all of central Ohio through the Columbus Fetal Medicine Collaborative. Dr. O’Shaughnessy explains, “By understanding that health care starts long before birth, we can offer babies the best chance for a healthy start to the rest of their lives.”
This story was written by Frances Riggins.