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Arizona Fetal Care Network offers help, hope in high-risk pregnancy

For Jacob and Cathleen Miller, every moment they spend holding daughter Elizabeth is precious, all the more so because it’s something they feared might never happen.

“And I would cry several times while telling  the story,” Cathleen Miller remembered. “Because you don’t know if you are going to have the point where you are going to be able to hold your baby girl.”

It’s a story that started just five months into her pregnancy.

arizona fetal care network

“We learned at 20 weeks of what was going on, and it was devastating to us,” she explained.

“Cathleen and her husband came to us when they were very, very worried after a diagnosis was made of a very large cyst in the lung that was pushing on the heart and pushing on all the blood vessels,” Dr. Kathleen Graziano of Phoenix Children’s Hospital explained.

Faced with a diagnosis that could mean severe problems — if Elizabeth even survived — the Millers were overwhelmed.

“And we Googled a lot which was very bad,” the mom-to-be said.

One good thing did come from Miller online search. She found the Arizona Fetal Care Network, which Graziano heads.

“We created at Phoenix Children’s a way for families and OBs and maternal fetal medicine doctors to contact us when they notice something wrong in the womb, in utero,” Graziano said.

arizona fetal care network

Graziano and coordination manager Jessica Felts jump into action in those cases, providing everything from information to helping find doctors and getting appointments.

“We can help you do that,” Graziano said. “We know the front office people; we know the coordinators.”

They helped connect the Millers with surgeons who could perform surgery on Elizabeth in the womb,  very intricate operation.

“The intervention is to place small tubes through the chest of the baby — while the baby is developing — in order to drain that cyst,” Graziano explained.

It is the kind of treatment the Miller says she had her  husband would never have known about were is not for AFCN.

“We had no idea that you could do surgeries in utero,” she said.

It is a service Arizona did not have until recently — it was started earlier this year — but Miller says proved to be essential for her family.

“They gave us all the resources, all the help, all the information,” she said. “Any questions we had, they answered.”

Graziano removed the removed Elizabeth’s cyst right after the now 1-year-old was born. Their daughter’s first birthday was a milestone Miller does not believe they would have reached without the fetal care team.

“If we didn’t have that team, I don’t think our daughter would be here,” she said.

High-risk pregnancy doctors routinely guide patients to the network, but expectant parents can also contact them directly. The service is free.

Arizona Fetal Care Network: 602-933-4411 or 1-855-826-4411 |  www.PhoenixChildrens.org

Source: Arizona Fetal Care Network offers help, hope in high-risk pregna – CBS 5 – KPHO