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In This Issue:
Surgeon Prem Shekar and patient Cassidy Brown
After undergoing coronary bypass surgery earlier this month, Cassidy Brown was eager to regain her strength quickly for one immediate reason: trick-or-treating on Halloween.
One of the youngest patients to ever undergo surgery at BWH, the 11-year-old was texting her brother and sister and chatting away in her bed as she recovered in the Cardiac Surgery ICU days later. Two years ago, Cassidy developed Kawasaki Disease, a rare condition that involves inflammation of the blood vessels and affects mainly children under 5.
“In some patients, Kawasaki Disease can produce critical coronary artery lesions, and as a result, they need coronary bypass surgery,” said BWH cardiac surgeon Prem Shekar, MD, who performed Cassidy’s surgery.
Because so few children ever need coronary bypass surgery, Children’s Hospital Boston—where Cassidy receives care—does not perform the operation and recommended Shekar and the BWH team.
A BWH multidisciplinary team pulled together and planned every last detail of her care well in advance of the surgery, making adjustments in equipment to accommodate her height and weight and tending to her emotional well-being. Their efforts certainly didn’t go unnoticed by Cassidy’s family.
“We knew everything two months out, what rooms she’d be staying in on both Shapiro 6 and 7 after surgery and what nurses would be taking care of her,” said her father, Dan Brown, a Newburyport firefighter. “We even saw nurses in a room across the hall learning about pediatric care. It was unbelievable. They were doing this just for us, just for our little girl.”
Working with Children’s Hospital experts, nurse educator Maria Bentain-Melanson, MSN, RN, put together a plan of care for Cassidy and held an education session for Shapiro 6 and 7 nurses.
“Caring for an 11-year-old was a bit of a change for us, but everyone involved did an outstanding job to help give Cassidy a better shot at enjoying her youth,” said Matt Quin, BSN, RN, nurse manager of the Cardiac Surgery ICU. “Her parents felt confident that their daughter was in good hands—a relief to them during a difficult time.”
During Cassidy’s recovery, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, nurses, social workers and other members of the care team made sure that the proper equipment was available and tended to the needs of her and her parents, who remained with Cassidy during her stay.
“Everyone was phenomenal,” said mom Christine Brown, ticking off a list of names that included perfusionists, anesthesiologists, nurses, physicians and patient care assistants.
Prior to surgery, Luigi Nascimben, MD, PhD, of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, secured the correct equipment and central lines for a child. Chief Perfusionist Dan FitzGerald made adjustments to the heart-lung machine, while nurses and surgical technologists ensured Cassidy had the best care during her operation.
“The whole team came together,” Shekar said. “The surgery and recovery went smoothly, thanks to the whole team’s extensive preparation and genuine thoughtfulness in caring for Cassidy and her family.”
Nascimben even visited with Cassidy after her surgery, bringing his own young daughters and a gift. “Not only are the people here awesome at what they do, they’re just really nice people,” Dan Brown said, recalling the visit. “That’s what made it easier for us.”
Cassidy Brown and her parents, Christine and Dan, back left, are surrounded by some of the many BWHers involved in her care, including, from left, Jackie Gagnon, RN, Maria Bentain-Melanson, RN, Matt Quin, RN, Nancy Minghella, RN, and, on right, Kerrin Daru, RN, and Luigi Nascimben, MD.