One day when their daughter, Natalie, is old enough, Jennifer and Patrick Bohach will tell her why she is their little miracle.
Before Natalie was born, a 36-week gestational ultrasound detected an abnormality, and Jennifer was referred to Katherine Singh, MD, an Ob/Gyn who specializes in high-risk pregnancies at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital. After further evaluation, Jennifer was referred to Darrell Cass, MD, Director of Fetal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic's Fetal Care Center.
An expert in risk stratification of the fetus, Dr. Cass ordered a fetal MRI and echocardiogram which revealed a diaphragmatic hernia, a birth defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the diaphragm. Dr. Cass then sat down with the Bohachs to explain that the baby would need surgery just days after she was born.
“We did a fetal assessment in which we were able to predict the postnatal course very accurately,” says Dr. Cass. “This allowed us to inform the family of what to expect, and it helped guide the team in her postnatal care. In this particular case, the findings of fetal MRI were favorable.”
“Unless something happens, you don’t realize we have a world class medical facility right in our own backyard. The Cleveland Clinic is like an international airport waiting room. People come from all over the world to get that care.”
According to Dr. Cass, a diaphragmatic hernia occurs 1 in 2,500-5,000 live births. At least 25 percent of babies die from the condition. If they survive, they may have lifelong disability effects.
Natalie Bohach was born on May 14, 2018, in the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) at the Fetal Care Center at Cleveland Clinic's main campus. Four days later, Dr. Cass and pediatric surgeon Anthony DeRoss, MD, performed thoracoscopic surgery to correct the condition. Natalie spent three weeks recovering in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and she is now doing well at home.
While their ordeal was stressful, the first-time parents are grateful for the care and support from caregivers at the Fetal Care Center, including care coordinator Elaine Bishop, Dr. Cass, Dr. DeRoss, the NICU and SDU teams, and many others.
A happy and healthy eight-month-old Natalie.
“It was almost like a miracle that Dr. Cass joined Cleveland Clinic right when we needed him,” says Jennifer. “Having his expertise and knowledge made us feel very comfortable with the entire experience. We will never forget what the doctors, the nurses and support staff did for us. They were fantastic. Considering how terrible the situation was, everyone was so great.”
“I knew my wife and daughter were in good hands,” says Patrick. “Unless something happens, you don’t realize we have a world class medical facility right in our own backyard. The Cleveland Clinic is like an international airport waiting room. People come from all over the world to get that care.”
The Fetal Care Center is one of a few in the nation to provide coordinated services for the complex needs of families facing rare fetal or maternal disorders. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists and Ob/Gyn's work closely with the team of sub-specialists, utilizing advanced technology and techniques for diagnosis and intervention.
“We will continue to follow Natalie until she goes off to college, but I do not anticipate any problems. I expect her to have a normal life,” says Dr.Cass. “She is doing way better than 90 percent of babies. This is mostly because of the nature of her condition, and partly because we provided excellent care and prevented any complications.”
“We call Natalie our little miracle. You would never know by looking at her what she went through,” says Jennifer.
Cleveland Clinic Children's ,
Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute ,
Ob/Gyn & Women's Health Institute,
Heart & Vascular Institute (Miller Family)