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Good Samaritan Hospital Surgeon Performs Lifesaving Operation on 1-Day-Old Infant Baby Diagnosed with Rare Gastrointestinal Blockage Before Birth

March 17th, 2014

Duodenal atresia, a blockage in the upper part of the small intestine that prevents babies from eating on their own, is so rare that it affects only one in 10,000 babies. After undergoing a routine sonogram in her 20th week of pregnancy, Kathleen Mari and her husband Michael learned that there was a good chance that their first baby would be among those affected. They were also told that up to 40% of babies with duodenal atresia also have Down syndrome. Left untreated, the condition may be fatal.

After much crying, prayer and consultation with medical professionals, the couple turned to Good Samaritan Hospital’s Maternal Fetal Medicine Program.  This program offers comprehensive management of patients experiencing high-risk pregnancies, and is an integral part of the services offered to the more than 2,800 women who deliver their babies at Good Samaritan each year.

One month after the initial sonogram, Dina Elkady, MD, Director of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Program, performed a second sonogram and fetal MRI which distinctly showed a “double bubble” where the baby’s stomach should have been. This indicated that air was trapped in the stomach and duodenum, confirming the devastating diagnosis. Ms. Mari’s chose to the Verifi test, a non-invasive blood test to detect genetic abnormalities, which was negative for Down syndrome. Over the next 14 weeks, Mrs. Mari was closely monitored with specialized 3-D scans and stress tests and in her 37th week there was a change in the baby’s condition which indicated delivering soon. 

Good Samaritan affiliated physician Athanasios Antoniadis, MD, delivered the Maris’ daughter, Lauren, was delivered by Cesarean section the following week. Vinci Jones, MD, Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Good Samaritan, had been monitoring Mrs. Mari and was ready to perform surgery when Lauren was just one day old. After the operation successfully cleared the blockage, Lauren could not take nourishment by mouth for two weeks and remained under the watchful eyes of the expert staff in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). You could not imagine how sick Lauren was by the smile on her face. Just 16 days after her surgery, Lauren was discharged from Good Samaritan and is now a healthy, happy six month old, eating and growing well.

Lindenhurst residents Mr. and Mrs. Mari chose Dr. Elkady and Dr. Jones because of their experience handling complex cases. Their daughter received the excellent care they expected, and the entire family benefited from an extra dose of compassion.

“We are truly thankful for every doctor, nurse and aide who helped our daughter and always took the time to check on my husband and me, too,” said Mrs. Mari. “Each person we encountered made the hardest time of our lives a little easier. We are blessed to have had each of the angels that work in Good Sam’s NICU treat our daughter.”


Colleen Valdini
Manager, Public and External Affairs
(631) 376-4483