Philomena's Story

Mar 24, 2022

Rita Zetouna knows her two-month-old daughter’s big smile is her way of saying, “I got this mom!” For Rita, it gives her peace and she sees it as a sign that everything will be all right.

When Rita was 20 weeks pregnant, her baby girl, who would be named Philomena, was diagnosed with three different heart defects - a hole in her heart, a valvar abnormality and narrowing of the aortic arch.

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“This was my fifth pregnancy, and I was in absolute shock. After some discussion about what options we had, my OB recommended a second opinion with a Children’s Hospital of Michigan pediatric cardiologist. We weren’t familiar with Children’s so we did some research and even considered another hospital where our friends were getting great care for their baby, but our hearts took us to Children’s and it changed our lives.”

Rita says a team of specialists at Children’s put her mind at ease from the start. Since Philomena’s diagnosis was determined prior to birth while she was still in utero, the experts at the Fetal Care Center wanted to have a plan in place for her so they were ready once she was born. Before arriving for her first appointment at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan’s Fetal Care Center, Rita received a text message with parking and entrance instructions. The day of her appointment, a medical professional was waiting at the door to take her to her appointment. While at the Fetal Care Center, the entire team made it easy since all of the pediatric healthcare specialists needed for Philomena’s care were in one location, helping reduce Rita’s stress and put her mind at ease so she could focus on her baby’s care.

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“It was so welcoming. The hospitality alone made me feel good and then when we met with Dr. Yamuna Sanil and she told us that the reason she became a doctor was to help children just like my daughter, she made us feel like we weren’t alone. She was confident Children’s pediatric cardiovascular surgeons could repair our daughter’s heart. Words could not express my thanks.”

Since Children’s isn’t a labor and delivery hospital, weeks after her visit at the Fetal Care Center, Rita had her baby at her local hospital with her chosen OB. Following delivery it was thought her heart issues may not be as life altering as the team had anticipated. Rita and her husband had prayed for a miracle and thought they’d received it until they took Philomena for a check-up with Dr. Sanil after she was born. With further evaluation, it was discovered that Philomena still had a hole in her heart that would eventually need to be corrected with surgery. “I am so thankful for how knowledgeable Dr. Sanil is. Thanks to her and the team at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Philomena is home and happy.” 

“I am so thankful for how knowledgeable Dr. Sanil is. Thanks to her and the team at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Philomena is home and happy.”

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Philomena will have regular cardiology checkups at Children’s until she’s four years old and her heart is larger. Doctors will then repair her heart and they say she has a great prognosis. 

“At one of our follow-up appointments, another family said to us, ‘you’re in good hands.  You’ll get taken care of really well here.’ I couldn’t agree more with them. Everyone at Children’s has treated Philomena and our family with such dignity and respect. Before Philomena was even born, they saw her as a person and are doing everything they can do to give her a long, beautiful life.  I look in her eyes every day and see a little girl with such amazing potential. Children’s Hospital is such a blessing!”

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