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Baylee King

In 2018, Marlee MacNaughton and Shane King from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, experienced a devastating stillbirth. Months after receiving the go-ahead from doctors, Marlee became pregnant again.

While they were both so very excited, they were also overwhelmed and nervous about the possibility of losing another baby. Fortunately, the IWK’s Fetal Assessment and Treatment Centre (FATC) was there for them—and their baby.

Not only can the care team at FATC help improve outcomes for an unborn baby by providing detailed tests and close screening, but they can also provide the support and reassurance pregnant women who have experienced previous complications need.

During Marlee’s 20-week ultrasound, her care team noticed they couldn’t see all of her baby’s heart chambers. At first, they thought it could be due to positioning, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. They discovered that the baby had a congenital heart defect called unbalanced atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD).

AVSD is a heart defect in which there are holes between the chambers of the right and left sides of the heart, and the valves controlling blood flow between these chambers may not be formed correctly. It usually requires surgery to correct the problem.

Marlee was referred to the IWK’s Children’s Heart Centre so a care team specializing in heart health could monitor her baby—a daughter she named Baylee—closely.  

“They explained what the heart defect was, what kind of surgery she was going to need, what to be prepared for,” shares Marlee. “So, at that point, we were going to the IWK every month to check on her growth and heart.”

At Marlee’s 37-week ultrasound, Dr. Coolen, a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist at the IWK, became concerned that Baylee wasn’t growing as much as she should. It was determined that Marlee should be induced to begin labour early.

Baylee was born weighing four pounds 14 ounces, and she was taken to the IWK’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for further care and observation. Although she had a heart defect, intervention was not needed at the time, and she was able to go home a week after being born. However, it wasn’t long before complications from her heart defect arose.

During Baylee’s two-month check-up, her care team discovered that she was in heart failure and needed immediate surgery at the IWK to repair the congenital heart defect. Fortunately, she recovered very well and was able to return home not long after the procedure. But that would not be the end of her care journey.

By age four, Baylee would need three more heart surgeries—all of them at SickKids in Toronto due to the complexity of her heart issues. Before her last surgery, she went into heart failure again. She needed to be airlifted to Toronto to have her heart valve replaced with a mechanical valve and a pacemaker inserted—something she’ll need her entire life. 

The mechanical valve makes Baylee prone to blood clots, and she must have a blood test done weekly —something Marlee and Shane learned to do at home—to ensure her blood-thinning medication is working effectively.

Baylee, now four years old, loves to play, swim and swing on the swings —all things Marlee and Shane are grateful she can do.

“If we didn’t have the IWK, Baylee probably wouldn’t be here,” she shares. “I feel like there’s nothing they wouldn’t do for her.”


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