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For first-time parents Rebekah and Ernest Carper of Spencer, W.Va., there was no greater joy than the birth of their daughter Baylee Louise in April of 2012. It was all the young newlyweds had hoped for, especially after Rebekah was told that getting pregnant would be difficult.
At almost 6 months of age, Baylee was thriving. But after experiencing her first cold, Baylee's health took a dramatic turn. She was eating less and sleeping more and, when awake, was fussy – all signs of teething, according to Baylee's pediatrician.
While refusing to take pain reliever medication to soothe the teething, Baylee turned blue. Rebekah rushed her daughter to the local community hospital where doctors immediately recognized her grave condition. Baylee was quickly transferred by helicopter to a larger medical center in Morgantown, W.Va., where she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy – a potentially life-threatening enlargement and weakening of the heart muscle.
For a week Baylee responded to medications given intravenously to help heal her failing heart. But when her heart raced out of control, doctors knew that Baylee needed more advanced treatment. They called for emergency helicopter transport to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, the region's only pediatric cardiac critical care unit and heart transplant program.
Once at Children's Hospital, Baylee was met by a team of specialists, including Shawn West, MD, MSc, to stabilize her condition. It was Dr. West who, with his direct but compassionate style, also delivered Baylee's prognosis and need for a heart transplant to her frightened parents.
For Dr. West, this type of situation may occur at any hour of the day or night. When on call, it is Dr. West's responsibility to help manage emergencies and care for Children's heart failure and transplant patients. Anxiety is high in some cases, with little time to save the life of a young patient in cardiac distress.
In October, 2012, after 20 days on the heart transplant waiting list, including six days on a ventricular assist device (VAD)that provided circulatory support, Baylee received her new heart. Dr. West was there every step of the way, educating and comforting Rebekah and Ernest throughout their emotional journey.
By the spring of 2013, Baylee was once again active and playful, just like any other healthy toddler. The Carpers are thankful for Dr. West's counsel and guidance and for the life-saving work of the specialists at Children's Hospital.
Children's Hospital's main campus is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood. Our main hospital address is:
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC
One Children’s Hospital Way
4401 Penn Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
In addition to the main hospital, Children's has many convenient locations in other neighborhoods throughout the greater Pittsburgh region.
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Interested in giving to Children's Hospital? Visit Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation's website to make a donation online.