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Caring for the heart

World-renowned Medical College physicians comfort parents and fix their baby’s heart

Left to right: Dr. Tweddell is Professor and Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Dr. Ghanayem is Associate Professor or Pediatrics (Critical Care).

Little Addelyne Horne was just 10 days old when she started turning blue.  She was 20 days old when she had her first heart surgery.

Addelyne has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, one of the most complex heart defects at birth, in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped.  As recently as 20 years ago, most infants with hypoplastic left heart disease died.

Addelyne and her parents live in Oconomowoc, just miles from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin’s Herma Heart Center where Medical College pediatric cardiologists and heart surgeons have the world’s best published survival rates for the care of hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Josh and Melissa Horne, Addelyne’s parents, entrusted the care of their daughter to James Tweddell, MD, pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon, and Nancy Ghanayem, MD, pediatric cardiac critical care.  “Countless times, Dr. Ghanayem asked if we had any questions,” says Josh Horne, Addelyne’s dad.  “She would spend anywhere from half an hour to an hour sitting there and explaining things to us.  She even made time for our four-year-old, so he wouldn’t feel left out.”

"There comes a point when you just have to start trusting the people taking care of your child. With Drs. Tweddell and Ghanayem on board, we have been able to do that."

Medical College pediatric heart surgeons and cardiologists have developed novel techniques to refine the Norwood procedure, the first of three surgeries to repair hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and have set national benchmarks for surgical outcomes.  The monitoring tools they have developed to ensure brain oxygenation during hypoplastic heart surgery have become standard medical practice throughout the world.

“There comes a point when you just have to start trusting the people taking care of your child,” said Melissa Horne, who is a physician coordinator at Neurologic Associates in Waukesha.  “With Drs. Tweddell and Ghanayem on board, we have been able to do that.”

While 85 percent of patients born with a heart defect now live into adulthood, they have ongoing medical concerns unique to their pediatric disease.  Medical College adult and pediatric cardiologists work collaboratively in one of the few adult congenital heart disease programs in the country.  This is a destination program that bridges conventional barriers to provide seamless, transitional care from childhood into adulthood.


Physician expertise at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Herma Heart Center
  • Consistently higher survival rates for children undergoing heart surgery, according to national benchmarks.
  • Only cardiothoracic surgeons in Wisconsin with American Board of Thoracic Surgery Certificates in Congenital Heart Surgery.
  • One of the largest pediatric cardiac programs in the nation, annually performing more than 850 cardiothoracic surgeries and nearly 13,000 diagnostic, therapeutic and surgical procedures with a survival rate of 98% or greater.
  • Pregnant women from across the U.S are referred here to pediatric cardiologists and pediatric heart surgeons for pre-and postnatal care of the fetus and newborn.  Physicians are nationally and internationally recognized for excellent clinical outcomes for complex neonatal heart surgery.
  • Fellowship-trained physician provides specialized expertise for adults with congenital heart defects.
© 2014 Medical College of Wisconsin
Page Updated 07/23/2013