Simultaneous surgeries save mom and baby at London Health Sciences Centre

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After giving birth to her first child in 2003, Lisa Thuss Tandy immediately suffered a severe postpartum brain aneurysm that necessitated two subsequent surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Seven years later with her brain aneurysm fully repaired, Lisa and her husband were once again eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new addition to the family. She thought all would be well with this pregnancy, as her medical team did not consider her brain aneurysm to be a risk this time around.

On February 27, 2011, at 39 weeks pregnant, Lisa experienced an episode of confusion and short-term memory issues while scrapbooking at her sister’s house. She was rushed to London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital, where a CT scan revealed that she had an aortic dissection, a life-threatening tear in the inner wall of the aorta.

After carefully considering the significant risks to both mom and baby, her care team led by Cardiovascular Surgeon, Dr. Linrui Guo, and Acting Citywide Co-chief, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Renato Natale, made the decision to carry out simultaneous open-heart surgery to repair the type A aortic dissection and an emergency C-section.

Dr. Natale explains their thought process. “This was a critical condition where the risk to the baby was intra-uterine death if the mother wasn’t helped. In this case, we felt the situation was so grave for Lisa that we thought anything we might do surgically in the abdomen might cause problems in the heart. We thought we should be ready from a heart point-of-view.”

With two lives at stake, it would not be an easy task. After opening the chest and preparing the growing vessels for surgery, a C-section was performed and a healthy baby girl was delivered. Following the safe arrival of the baby, the two teams continued to work together over the next seven hours to complete the complex surgeries.

This was a unique case and was the first time these particular surgeries were concurrently performed at LHSC. Thanks to the incredible skill of her medical team and the state-of-the-art technology available, after waking up from surgery, Lisa was presented with her healthy baby girl.

“As hard as everything has been, the bottom line is I’m still here and that’s because of them,” says Thuss Tandy. “I’m very thankful for the quality care I’ve received at each stage of my journey.”

For Dr. Natale, the day is also one he won’t forget. “The experience I had that day made me even more proud of the health care system that we have in our city.”

* With  files from London Health Sciences Foundation