From Owensboro to Louisville: Heart patient diagnosed in utero, cared for since birth

Baylor Rusher was born at Norton Hospital in March 2021 with several heart defects: double-inlet left ventricle, great vessels transposition and stenosis of the pulmonary artery.

Chelsea Rusher was getting a routine 20-week anatomy scan when her provider noticed a complication: Her son, Baylor, would be born with a heart defect. After that appointment, Chelsea, who lives south of Owensboro, Kentucky, chose Norton Children’s for maternal-fetal medicine care.

Fetal diagnosis to comprehensive heart care

Baylor was born at Norton Hospital in Louisville in March 2021 with several heart defects: double-inlet left ventricle, great vessels transposition and stenosis of the pulmonary artery. He spent eight days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Since his birth, Baylor has required multiple heart procedures performed by the team at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine. Those have included cardiac catheterizations by pediatric cardiologist Edward S. Kim, M.D., and surgeries by pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Bahaaldin Alsoufi, M.D.

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To refer a patient to Norton Children’s Heart Institute, visit Norton EpicLink and choose EpicLink referral to Pediatric Cardiology.

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It takes a series of surgeries at Norton Children’s Hospital to repair Baylor’s double-inlet left ventricle:

  • Blalock-Taussig shunt: During the operation, a small tube creates a new path of blood flow to the lungs by connecting the right subclavian artery and the right pulmonary artery. This surgery is performed during the first week or two of a patient’s life.
  • Glenn procedure: The second operation replaces the Blalock-Taussig shunt by connecting the superior vena cava to the right atrium and usually is performed when the patient is 4 to 12 months old.
  • Fontan procedure: The third and final surgery creates an additional connection from the right atrium to the inferior vena cava; it is usually performed when the patient is 18 to 36 months old. (Eventually, Baylor will undergo this procedure when he is older.)

Receiving care close to home

Baylor will require lifelong care with a cardiologist, and the team at Norton Children’s Heart Institute works closely with his pediatrician in Owensboro in a well-established collaboration of care among providers. At Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s outpatient location in Owensboro, pediatric cardiologist Smitha Bullock, M.D., can check in with Baylor and his family in their own community.

Meanwhile, Baylor’s parents are very appreciative to have follow-up care close to home, instead of having to drive nearly two hours to Louisville for every appointment.

“We get the same quality of care in Owensboro that we do at the outpatient clinic in Louisville,” Chelsea said. “It saves us a lot of time and driving. It means a lot to our family, and we are so grateful.”

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