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Celebrating matters of the heart

RPA patient with rare heart condition becomes first time mum.

Parents in surgical room holding new baby
SydneyConnect Image: Gemma and Terry Moon, and their new baby

It's a special Valentine's Day for Gemma and Terry Moon - the first with their baby boy Jesse.

"He has a cheeky streak. And, he has his Dad's appetite, he likes to eat, eat and eat," Gemma said.

Gemma has a rare congenital heart condition and her pregnancy was not without risk.

"My heart only has one ventricle to pump blood around my body. So, there were a few risks with blood supply for the baby and for me during my pregnancy. But my specialist was confident my heart was strong enough," Gemma said.

Her specialist, Professor David Celermajer, the Director of Adult Congenital Heart Services at RPA's Cardiology Department, has cared for Gemma since she was 16 years old.

"She was born with a single heart pumping chamber or a one pump heart. Almost all people have two pumps in their heart. One pump hearts are rare and often associated with early mortality in childhood or beyond," Professor Celermajer said.

As a child, Gemma had two corrective operations including the Fontan procedure - which is surgery which results in the flow of venous blood (blood without oxygen) through the body to the lungs without being pushed by the heart.

"Women with a one pump heart usually have a lot of problems falling pregnant, have high rates of early miscarriage and their babies tend to grow more slowly than normal," Professor Celermajer said.

"Only about one-in-three such young women end up with a successful pregnancy, although the odds are getting better with recent medical advances," he said.

With specialists at RPA's High Risk Obstetrics Clinic, he monitored Gemma's progress throughout her pregnancy and she had regular scans to check her heart and the baby's too.

"Towards the end of my pregnancy, the baby wasn't growing as well as the doctors would have liked. So, Jesse was delivered at RPA four weeks early. He was 1.9 kilograms. He was a tiny baby," Gemma said.

Jesse was admitted to RPA's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and was discharged a week later and is now at home.

"It was lovely to be able to bring Jesse home with us. The care we received was second to none. I trust Professor Celermajer with everything - with my life," Gemma said.

Jesse's now six weeks old and weighs over three kilograms. And, Gemma will now return to having a yearly check-up with Professor Celermajer.

"Gemma is amazing. She has had some heart palpitations and she takes some regular medication but overall, she has had an excellent quality of life. She has wonderful resilience and I couldn't be happier for her and Terry.

"Valentine's Day is all about celebrating matters of the heart. It's been a wonderful outcome for Gemma, Terry and baby Jesse. They are all doing super well," Professor Celermajer said.