Woman with Cystic Fibrosis Delivers Baby Successfully

Mary Leigh Phillips, 29, of Northern Virginia is about to celebrate her “best Thanksgiving ever,” thanks to what she calls the “miracle birth” of her son Jack. Mary Leigh has Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic lung condition, and never expected she would be able to have a successful pregnancy.

November 21, 2011

New Mom Calls Birth “A Miracle” that Brings New Meaning to “Thankful"

(Washington, D.C.) – Mary Leigh Phillips, 29, of Northern Virginia is about to celebrate her “best Thanksgiving ever,” thanks to what she calls the “miracle birth” of her son Jack. Mary Leigh has Cystic Fibrosis, a chronic lung condition, and never expected she would be able to have a successful pregnancy.

“There just aren’t that many CF patients out there who have been able to have children,” said Mary Leigh. “My husband had genetic counseling as soon as we discovered I was pregnant and it turns out he is not a carrier so we knew that Jack would not be born with CF. “

Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited condition that affects the lungs and the digestive tract. It afflicts some 30,000 people in the United States and 70,000 world-wide, according to the American Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

A recessive gene mutation for Cystic Fibrosis leads to a protein that produces a thick, sticky mucous in the lungs and causes life-threatening infections. Cystic Fibrosis can also cause diabetes and problems with the pancreas and its ability to break down and absorb nutrition from food.

“My immediate concerns were over all the medications I take to control my disease and whether they would be safe for Jack during my pregnancy. Thank goodness Dr. Helain Landy and the people in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Georgetown knew to take me off one of my medications, but the rest of them were ok. I was nervous because I knew this was uncharted territory but I felt like we were in really great hands.”

“I had never treated a pregnant woman with Cystic Fibrosis before, and there are not many in the medical literature,” said Helain Landy, MD, chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and member of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Georgetown University Hospital. “We were very concerned about Mary Leigh because Cystic Fibrosis affects so many organ systems in the body; her lungs, her pancreas, GI tract, potentially her heart, and the fact that she has diabetes, like so many CF patients do, was also something we had to watch very carefully.”

Mary Leigh’s physicians say the fact that she was an avid runner and physically fit before her pregnancy definitely helped.

“The greatest gift was that Dr. Landy coordinated all the specialists I see for my Cystic Fibrosis and my diabetes, a pulmonologist, an endocrinologist, a cardiologist, an electro-physiologist, and the anesthesiologist for the delivery, so everyone was on the same page and everyone was communicating. At the time of my delivery everyone was in place and knew what to do. Dr. Landy runs a tight ship!”

On May 27, 2011 Jack was born at 36 weeks gestation and weighed almost five pounds.

“He didn’t even have to spend a day in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), but we chose Georgetown because we knew that if anything happened we’d have the best NICU option,” said May Leigh.

In the 1950’s the CF Foundation reports few children lived long enough to attend elementary school. Today, thanks to research and advances in medicine, people with CF live into their 30’s, 40’s and longer. More than 45% of people with CF are over the age of 18.

“I’m just so amazed by the care I received from Dr. Landy and the team at Georgetown,” said Mary Leigh. I’ve even been able to breast feed Jack which I never thought would be possible. My lung function is back to my baseline and I’m really feeling good.”

“No matter how many years I’ve practiced medicine and how many babies I’ve delivered, you can always learn something amazing,” reflected Dr. Landy.

Mary Leigh said, “My hope for Jack is a long and healthy life and that I’m healthy enough to be there with him. For me and my family, his birth has brought new meaning to the word ‘Thankful,’ that’s for sure.”

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