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Home Articles Features Dr Sanjay Doddamani and team help a high risk Mom

Dr Sanjay Doddamani and team help a high risk Mom

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Newsday.com Friday 7th 2010
Anne Marie Ballato was pregnant and afflicted with a genetic heart condition that had caused three members of her family to die suddenly - and the same might have happened to her without the aid of a highly specialized medical team, doctors said yesterday.

Uninsured, unemployed and down on her luck, Ballato, 38, of Valley Stream , said she hadn't received prenatal care since her 13th week of pregnancy. By the time she sought out Nassau University Medical Center in March, she was in her 31st week. That's when doctors at the East Meadow hospital discovered her heart disorder.

Without a way to pay for health care, Ballato said she had planned to deliver in an emergency room - any emergency room. Instead, she was thanking a team of doctors Thursday who provided a range of sophisticated services, including the implantation of a defibrillator that can monitor her heart around the clock for potentially deadly rhythms.


"I am so grateful to see this outcome because this patient was truly high risk," said Dr. Chaur-Dong-Hsu, NUMC's chairman of obstetrics.

NUMC medical experts celebrated the birth of Ballato's daughter, Izabella Erwin, during a news conference Thursday and congratulated the new mom, who underwent a Caesarean section on April 23 and the defibrillator implantation on April 27.

Ballato said two other centers, the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center and St. John's Episcopal Hospital, both in Far Rockaway , turned her away because she's uninsured. NUMC is financing her care.

Dr. Peter Nelson, who heads the Addabbo center, said his doctors never turn away poor, pregnant women. He said physicians there recognized Ballato's high-risk status and referred her to Long Island Jewish Medical Center . Ballato recalled that Addabbo referred her to Long Island Jewish and St. John's, and decided to try St. John's, though a spokeswoman for St. John's said the hospital's maternal and fetal department have no record of her ever registering as a patient.

Ballato has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy , a disorder in which the heart's muscle thickens, making it difficult to pump blood. The malfunction is the same that sometimes makes headlines when it suddenly claims the lives of young athletes. Although her mother, a maternal aunt and grandmother all had died suddenly, Ballato didn't know she had the condition until doctors unmasked it at NUMC.

"They just dropped dead," Ballato, said referring to her relatives. "Everybody thought it was heart attacks."Cardiology chairman Dr. Sanjay Doddamani said Ballato's choice of NUMC occurs at an opportune time in the center's history. "If this had happened one year ago, we would not have been able to do this," he said of implanting the defibrillator, which required collaboration with North Shore University Medical Center experts.

"I can't say thank you enough," Ballato said.

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