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When Capucine was born she seemed perfect, except for a slight heart murmur. When the murmur was still present several days later, Capucine’s pediatrician told parents Jennifer and Christophe that, out of an abundance of caution, she should be evaluated at Nemours Cardiac Center at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Tests revealed that Capucine had Tetratology of Fallot, a cluster of heart defects. “The cardiologist, Dr. Bhat, drew a diagram of a healthy heart and then one of our baby’s heart,” remembers Christophe. It showed that Capucine had a hole between the two lower chambers of her heart and that the pathway between her heart and lungs was abnormal. She would need open-heart surgery within the next two weeks.
“I was distraught — here was this tiny baby needing very serious surgery,” remembers Jennifer. Christophe was more pragmatic, “We were very lucky that Capucine’s problem was fixable, and it was a blessing that she was diagnosed so quickly. I felt it was in the Lord’s hands and was at peace with it.”
They met with Christian Pizarro, MD, Director of the Nemours Cardiac Center and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery, who would perform the surgery. “He was very matter of fact with us,” says Christophe. “He said that they do these repairs frequently and that there was only a small chance of complications.” Jennifer walked to the operating room to hand Capucine over to the anesthesiologist on the baby’s nineteenth day of life. “I was praying the entire time. My feet seemed to turn to lead as I took the last steps, but I trusted the doctor who had been very sensitive to our needs.”
Capucine came through the surgery with flying colors, spending the first three days in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. “It was overwhelming,” comments Jennifer, “but we were impressed with the flawless coordination of care. The nurses made us feel less scared.” After another three days in the Hospital, Capucine went home.
“Before the surgery, we did our homework. The consensus among doctors we talked to was that they would take their own children to Dr. Pizarro for surgery,” says Christophe. “We are grateful that this skilled team produced such a great outcome for Capucine. Her incision has healed beautifully, and she is developing quite normally.”
Now a fiesty preschooler, Capucine is living a perfectly normal childhood filled with friends and fun. She loves to paint and play dress-up, throw a football with her brothers and tear up the soccer field. “She is a very fast runner and never seems to get tired. We expected there to be consequences, but haven’t seen any,” says her mother, Jennifer.