BILLINGS, Mont. -- A rare fetal procedure was performed for the first time at Billings Clinic in September.
Amber Johnson was well into her pregnancy when she found out she was exposed to something called Parvovirus. According to Dr. Michael Gordon, Parvovirus usually occurs in dogs, but there is one type that can occur in humans.
"You don't think it's going to happen to your patient," says OBGYN Nicki Mandala, "and I was like 'whoa' so I called my good friend and he said 'let's get her in, let's find out of the baby's okay."
"She called me late on Thursday night saying 'hey I just got these results back, they're positive, you need to go in right away friday morning to go get an ultrasound," says mother, Amber Johnson, "Being so late and a doctor calling you... it's terrifying."
Dr. Gordon says this virus doesn't show any symptoms in adults, but if you are pregnant and exposed to Parvovirus, it can cause unborn babies to become severely anemic, and the timeliness of testing is vital to the baby's health. He says Parvovirus can cause anemia bad enough to cause a stillbirth. Johnson and her doctors were then faced with two options: deliver the baby prematurely at 35 weeks or do a rare medical procedure called Cordocentesis.
"We go into the umbilical vein -- which isn't very large -- and draw blood off the baby," says Dr. Gordon.
Doctors say this procedure can be scary for patients, but being the brave mother she is, Johnson decided to do what was best for her baby.
"If I can give her a chance to continue to cook a little longer and get stronger and bigger then that's what I had to do. Being a mother you know, you have to protect and do what you have to do," she says.
Dr. Gordon had done this procedure before, but there was just one problem, he is the only one at Billings Clinic who knew how, and to perform it properly you need two sets of hands. Gordon says a colleague of his, Dr. Hugh Miller, came to town and was able to help.
"It's a very scary procedure and she took the news very calmly, thought about it very well, and allowed us to do this procedure versus just delivering and exposing her baby to prematurity," Gordon says.
Dr. Gordon and Dr. Mandala are happy to report Johnson and her baby Everlee are happy, healthy, and thriving.