From fetal anemia to healthy blood cells


On Dec. 29, 2014, my husband and I were eagerly waiting in the office for our appointment with Dr. Karsan. We had just finished an ultrasound and we were excited to continue to see our first baby grow.

I’ll never forget that sinking stomach feeling when Dr. Karsan came into the exam room and said there were concerns. She shared that the ultrasound tech had seen fluid in the baby’s body and with a quick scan she confirmed the report. Her normal cheery rapport became calm and serious. She held my hand as I held back tears, and she promised me she’d connect me to the best people for next steps.

And she did. At 7 the next morning we met Dr. Carpenter. We were comforted by his honest, but caring nature and his willingness to share the science with us. We saw Dr. Carpenter just about every day from that point on, early in the morning when lights were only beginning to turn on in his medical office building. From him, we learned more than we ever wanted to know about fetal anemia, hydrops and measuring the velocity of blood flow in the middle cerebral artery.   

By the end of the week, tests confirmed parvovirus B19 as the source of our problems, and we were on our way to our first intrauterine blood transfusion at 23 weeks gestation.

Dr. Belfort and Dr. Shami talked us through the process, engaged in our desire to understand what exactly would be happening, and did what they could to make us feel comfortable and confident. They were accessible, communicative and calming. I opted to stay awake during the procedure and I listened to their focused, determined conversation throughout. A week later we were back for a second transfusion, and again, Dr. Belfort and Dr. Shami earned our utter trust and admiration.

Fast-forward through several weeks of more ultrasounds with Dr. Carpenter as he patiently measured small decreases in the hydrops one day at a time. Finally, he scanned and saw a perfectly normal, active baby boy. Great MCA velocity. No extra fluids. He belted the words of Ave Maria, and his joy reverberated throughout the office. I cried, and we celebrated afterwards with cherry pie.

Jump again to April 8, 2015, when I had my 38-week appointment with Dr. Karsan. She guessed I’d have our baby boy sooner rather than later, but no one could say for sure. The next night, my water broke. She popped in and out of our hospital room throughout the day, making sure we knew she was there for us each step of the way and she would be there for the baby’s birth. A fabulous team of nurses supported us as labor progressed.

When delivery was imminent, a team of specialists arrived based on the baby’s in-utero history, and suddenly our hospital room seemed very crowded. Dr. Karsan ushered them back out into the hall. She advocated for a calm and peaceful delivery, and she spouted confidence that the baby was healthy.

And he was. Born late at night on April 10, 2015. He was perfect.

It’s been nearly 17 months since that doomsday ultrasound – as my husband and I refer to it. In reflecting back, we feel so incredibly lucky, thankful and blessed to have landed in the hands of the team at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. The care and commitment of Dr. Karsan, Dr. Carpenter, Dr. Belfort and Dr. Shami, and the many nurses who spent time with us made us feel like we were the only patients in the Pavilion. Because of their expertise and love, we now have a 13-month-old baby boy who is full of joy, laughter, curiosity and wiggles. Rafi is thoughtful, observant and silly. And clearly, he has plenty of healthy blood cells!