Dell Children’s will open a new fetal care center to treat unborn children with defects

Kevin Vu

Dell Children’s Medical Center will open a new comprehensive fetal care center May 3 that will be the only dedicated center in Central Texas for treating unborn children with conditions such as twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome and spina bifida, lead physicians said.

“Central Texas is void of all care for moms that have medically fragile newborns and young children,” said Karen Moise, the lead nurse for the center. “Dell Children’s has been on the forefront of starting to begin to provide extraordinary care to our families in Central Texas.”

Karen said previously when doctors identified unborn babies with a condition, they would send patients to specialists in Dallas or Houston.

Kenneth Moise, the head of the fetal care center, said after physicians detect anomalies or defects during ultrasounds, they will transfer patients to the fetal care center to diagnose the condition. Karen said based on the defect, they would perform surgery or coordinated care to treat the child.

In addition to the fetal care center, the hospital is opening a small labor and delivery unit in July to allow mothers to remain close to their children, Kenneth said.

“The concept is when you know your baby’s going to have a difficult time after birth, you want to be with your baby; you want to be in the same building,” said Kenneth, a women’s health professor at the Dell Medical School.

Amber Cessac, who lives in Houston and is a former patient of Kenneth, said halfway through her pregnancy ten years ago, her doctor detected twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in her babies. Kenneth said the syndrome is a rare pregnancy condition in which twins share one placenta — an essential organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to the baby — instead of having their own.

“I was only 24. This was my first pregnancy,” Cessac said. “I can still remember being in that ultrasound room, I still remember the doctors whispering to each other while they were looking at the babies … and I just really felt, ‘Wow, I’m staring the death of my children in the face.’”

Cessac said she contacted Kenneth for help, and he scheduled surgery for the next day. Kenneth located the abnormal blood vessel connections and used a laser to close them off, which stopped the blood flow and saved the two babies’ lives.

“For me, I was just so excited that someone was doing something, something just to try and save them,” Cessac said.

Cessac said she was lucky to come across Kenneth and Karen and is happy that more mothers are able to have the same access to care that she had.

“My (two children) are safe and healthy and alive because they had access to care,” Cessac said. “That’s part of why it’s really important that Dr. (Kenneth) Moise is now here in Austin, just so many more people (will) get access to that type of care, and otherwise, we wouldn’t have any options.”