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Every Step of the Way



Karielle Borts was just two months into her pregnancy when she got the troubling report. The eight-week ultrasound showed her baby had an enlarged bladder.

Scared and uncertain, Karielle and her husband, Francis, had one question after the next: What did the abnormality mean? Who could help? Where would they go? And of course the biggest question of all -- would their baby survive?

Karielle’s obstetrician recognized the need for advanced care and took a key step. She referred Karielle to Maternal Fetal Medicine -- the specialty that focuses on best possible care for women who face complicated pregnancies. Some reasons women visit a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist include:

  • Health problems in the mother such as high blood pressure or other diseases
  • Congenital abnormalities in the baby
  • Obstetrical complications such as preterm labor and delivery

A beacon of hope

The Borts would have traveled far to get the expert help they needed. Fortunately they only needed to go to Fargo, just 11 miles from their home in West Fargo, ND.

Shortly after her abnormal ultrasound, Karielle met with Peter Van Eerden, MD, one of three Sanford Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists. Based in Sioux Falls, they provide outreach services in Fargo, ND, and Rapid City, SD.

“I met Karielle very early in her pregnancy,” recalls Dr. Van Eerden. “We knew her baby had a blockage in his bladder, but we didn’t know why or what the outcome would be. We followed her very closely. That’s critical in understanding what’s going on with a patient and her pregnancy. We want to be able to give families as much information as possible.”

Dr. Van Eerden’s training and experience inspired Karielle’s trust and confidence. An OB/GYN for six years, he pursued fellowship training in Maternal Fetal Medicine, joining Sanford in 2005 . He and his colleagues Jeffrey Boyle, MD and Michael McNamara, MD work as a team, consulting with one another and staying up-to-date in a rapidly advancing field.

Excellence in this field requires more than medical expertise. These specialists and their staff also provide emotional support, recognizing the difficulties families face when every step is filled with uncertainty.

“Dr. Van Eerden, Dr. Boyle, Dr. McNamara -- they’re absolutely amazing doctors,” says Karielle. “Extremely professional, very confident, very compassionate. They did not sugarcoat one bit during our entire journey of trying to figure out what we were going to do next.”

Specializing in complicated pregnancies

Karielle was able to get much of the care she needed in Fargo, but occasional trips to Sanford’s Maternal Fetal Care Center in Sioux Falls were needed, too. The center offers:

  • A comprehensive team of highly trained nurses and ultrasound sonographers
  • State-of- the-art technology to provide detailed, precise diagnoses
  • Well-informed care plans based on potential risks, outcomes and the woman’s individual decisions
  • The availability of a wide range of specialists -- perinatal, neonatal and pediatric

Karielle’s pregnancy care included a consultation with a pediatric neurologist to discuss potential complications her baby might face.

“The best sound”

Later in her pregnancy Karielle experienced a complication that prompted an early delivery. She was transferred to Sioux Falls where she underwent a Caesarean birth.

“Before the C-section, we were told our son might not make it, but they’d do everything they could to save him,” says Karielle, pausing to compose herself. “The best sound in the world was hearing our son cry.”

Baby Kamden was diagnosed with a rare disorder called “Prune Belly syndrome,” also known as “Eagle-Barrett syndrome.” Today he’s doing well, thanks in part to his loving parents and their ongoing dedication to his best possible care.

Cherished moments

It’s summer 2011 and the Borts enjoy an afternoon in the park. Karielle sits cross-legged on the grass, holding 5-month old Kamden in her arms. With tiny soft hands he reaches up, touching her face.

Big sister Faith, now 2 years old, happily slips down a slide. “Wheeee,” she yells, then lands safely in the arms of her dad.

Much has happened since that eight-week ultrasound. Karielle would be the first to say it’s been an unforgettable, life-changing journey.

“I can’t say enough about Sanford,” says Karielle. “They touched our lives in ways I can’t even begin to tell you.”

Posted Date: September 2011

Every Step of the Way

For most families, expecting a baby is a joyous journey. But what happens when things don’t go as expected? Sanford’s Maternal Fetal Care Center provides the medical expertise and emotional support needed at a very critical time.

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