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Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Healthwatch Fall 2008

Baby with Potentially Fatal Heart Defect is Thriving

Jacksonville Family Chooses Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital

When Mac and Vernicia of Jacksonville welcomed their daughter, Jada, into the world, they were stunned to learn that she had a heart murmur caused by a rare and potentially fatal vascular abnormality.

Jada's diagnosis was a coronary artery fistula, a faulty connection between an artery and a vein inside her heart. Left untreated, this condition could put her at risk for ischemia, the impairment of blood to the heart.

Determined to find the right doctor to treat their baby girl, Mac and Vernicia researched a number of options in Florida before choosing Mark Boucek, MD, Director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Services at
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and a pediatric cardiologist on the medical staffs of Memorial Regional Hospital, Memorial Hospital West and Memorial Hospital Miramar. Dr. Boucek is not only a practicing physician but a prolific medical researcher with nearly 30 years of experience in cardiac medicine.

"Growing up in Miami, I was familiar with this hospital, and when we met Dr. Boucek, the fit felt right," says Vernicia. "He was confident but not arrogant, and we trusted him because he had remedied many children with Jada's condition."

Timing is Everything

For several months, Dr. Boucek and his colleagues at
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital monitored Jada on an outpatient basis until they determined the optimal time to perform the catheter-based intervention that would compensate for her heart's abnormality.

"The idea was to balance the need between urgency and the need for Jada to get big enough to risk having the procedure," explains Dr. Boucek.

When Jada was 10 months old, she was deemed ready for the procedure, which involved the precise insertion of a flexible vascular plug with fine wire mesh at both ends. By trapping platelets in the mesh, the plug would form a clot that would redirect the blood flow.

The procedure was a resounding success. Now healthy and thriving, she loves to play with her brother, 4-year-old Zaire.

Vernicia says, "Our family's experience at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital was well worth the many 600-mile round-trip commutes we made from Jacksonville." Between the quality of the medical treatment and the overnight accommodations provided by the hospital's Conine Clubhouse, the family had everything it needed and wanted in a hospital.

"We are very thankful for our decision to choose Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital and Dr. Boucek," says Vernicia. "Everyone was so friendly, and I have never met a better group of professional people."

To find a Memorial physician who is committed to patient- and family-centered care, call Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Physician Referral Service toll-free at (866) JDCH-DOC. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.