AUSTIN (KXAN) — Giving birth is tough enough for most mothers.
Yet, Austin native Micaela Allen said she had a tougher time than most could have ever imagined.
Her newborn daughter, Anderson, was rushed into live-saving surgery immediately after being born at the Dell Children’s Medical Center.
“It was definitely crazy with Anderson having a procedure on the day she was born,” Allen said.
Anderson was born with a congenital heart defect, just like her mother.
In a full circle moment, Allen’s childhood cardiologist, Dr. Karen Wright, entered the delivery room as the on-call cardiologist, and the two were reunited for the first time in 20 years.
Although there were many unknowns about Anderson’s condition at birth, Allen was immediately put at ease seeing a familiar face that she trusted to care for her daughter.
“There was just a wash of comfort after days, weeks and months filled with lots of medical people,” she said.
When she was 8-years-old, Wright diagnosed Allen with a bicuspid aortic valve — a condition impacting proper blood flow from the heart to the aorta.
She monitored her patient through adolescence until she eventually transitioned to adult cardiology.
Fast forward to Allen’s pregnancy and her 20-week anatomy scan revealed that her child had a more severe version of her heart defect called aortic valve stenosis.
“It took my breath away when I found out that she had aortic stenosis,” Allen said.
With critical aortic valve stenosis, Anderson’s heart was unable to generate sufficient blood flow across the aortic valve to support her body.
“Micaela has a very mild manifestation of it and Anderson has a very severe manifestation of it,” Wright explained.
To delay that once she was born, Wright replicated fetal circulation by keeping the ductus arteriosus open with prostaglandins.
It was a true team effort for the team with Pediatrix Pediatric and Congenital Cardiology Associates of Texas, as several of Wright’s colleagues providing prenatal and postnatal care.
The following day, Dr. Hitesh Agrawal performed a balloon valvuloplasty on Anderson to enlarge her valve opening.
Afterward, the baby spent the first month of its life in the hospital recovering.
“I lovingly, and I mean lovingly, consider Anderson my cardiology grandbaby,” Wright said.
Now seven months old, Anderson is thriving while living life at home with her family.
“There’s really nothing you can do when your child is fighting for their life every day,” Allen said. “You cannot prepare for that, but you will get through it.”
Anderson continues to be regularly monitored by Wright, as her family rekindles their longstanding relationship with the pediatric cardiologist.
While the baby’s disease will progress over time, the Pediatrix team is hopeful she won’t require another intervention for at least a couple of years, given how well she’s doing.