HOUSTON - A local family is sharing their remarkable full-circle-of-life moment. They're celebrating the birth of their son, in the same hospital that saved his mom's life, when she was a child.
Megan and Steven Koehler cherish every moment they can with their son, Walker. He was born in the hospital that helped save Megan's life decades ago.
"I actually was born with ventricular inversion, so I was born with this heart," explains Megan. "In fact, actually, before the Pavilion (for Women) was here, I was born in St. Luke's, immediately transferred over to Texas Children's Hospital (TCH), and then continued my heart care here up until just after college."
Megan had to undergo a life-saving heart transplant at Texas Children's Hospital when she was only 14 years old.
She wasn't sure how it would affect her future but was always hopeful that one day, she'd be able to have her own child.
"It's always on the back of our minds that we would have to get the doctor's permission, which is kind of weird to get extra permission," says Megan.
Dr. Manisha Gandhi was on board! She's an Obstetrician/Gynecologist and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist at Texas Children's Hospital and is the Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs at Baylor College of Medicine. Years ago, she saw the need for former TCH patients to be closely monitored before, during, and after their pregnancies, so she helped create a joint clinic to continue their care.
"We knew her care was going to be higher risk than our other patients with pregnancy," explains Dr. Gandhi. "We were able to continue the care she had received at Texas Children's, but now move into the Pavilion for Women where she was managed and cared for and delivered with the idea being that you have both your OBGYN and your cardiologist continuously discussing your care and managing your care together."
Megan and her husband found a huge sense of relief in this well-rounded medical partnership.
"Dr. Gandhi gave us a lot of confidence," says Steven. "Her level of confidence and what she was doing her positive outlook towards everything. The fact that she had a plan for everything really gave people, who are worried and like a plan, it really gave us a lot of confidence and let us sleep at night knowing that we were in the trusted hands of somebody that is one of the world's best."
Their baby, Walker, was breach, so he was born via a c-section at just over 37 weeks. Everything went as planned! Now, his loving family has been celebrating his first birthday! It was such a relief for them, that Megan's body was able to handle the new load of pregnancy and her increased risk of complications.
"One of our cardiologists likes to say that it's a nine-month stress test for the heart because of the increase in blood volume, your heart rate increases," says Dr. Gandhi. "Because of all of this, this leads to the heart working harder, and it may be fine when you're not pregnant, but during pregnancy because of this increased demand, it can lead to complications, or you can get higher risk for arrhythmias, so you can get more fluid on the lungs. You can get higher risk for obstetric complications like preeclampsia, pre-term delivery."
Megan was closely monitored during pregnancy. In fact, it meant twice as many appointments during her pregnancy, but she says an understanding boss made that doable. Now, as she revels in being a new mom, she continues to take good care of herself.
"Transplant life now is not nearly as bad and as hectic as it was right after transplant. I really do live a very normal life," says Megan. "I take medications at 8am and 8pm, but it's not like the handfuls that you do right after transplant, it's maybe five or six drugs."
The entire pregnancy was a full-circle experience for Megan at TCH. She says the hospital basically raised her and when there, it feels like home.
"I'd run into my old nurses, my old doctors, and that's always fun to see them," states a smiling Megan.