This month, the only Fetal Care Center in the Midwest opens here in St. Louis. The Washington University Medical Center, in conjunction with St. Louis Children's Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, now offers advanced fetal diagnosis, surgery before and after birth, and newborn medicine -- all under one roof.
Beeps, hums, and drips -- these are the sounds of life inside the neonatal intensive care unit at the new Fetal Care Center. Tiny babies -- who otherwise might not have made it without advanced care -- fill incubators.
Surgeries here can happen immediately after birth or even during pregnancy to fix a complicated diagnosis.
Meet Luke. Six weeks ago, a team of doctors were standing by to welcome, rescue, and rush him to intensive care.
"What he has -- the only way you can find it is through an MRI, so sometimes it's not diagnosed until kids start having seizures later on or they start to have developmental delays," Melanie Rush, Luke's mom, says.
Luke has a neurological brain disorder that can also cause mental retardation. Mom, Melanie Rush, found out after an abnormal ultrasound two months before she delivered.
"The best benefit is information," Nurse Meg Mohr says. "Knowledge is power, and if you know what you need to prepare for and what potentially you're dealing with, then that gives you a sense of peace of mind."
Nurse Mohr set up and accompanied Melanie to a string of doctor appointments, helping to ease the stress of an already life-changing experience.
"No one wants to get that information that something is wrong with their baby, but it was nice to have that information and have time to deal with it and to have time for our family and friends to find out," Rush says. "We had time to learn about it, so when he got here we could just focus on him."
Now, baby Luke sees physical therapists and specialists to ensure the best possible future.
The Fetal Care Center cares for more than 700 babies on any given day.