Baby saved by a 3D heart scan at Evelina London

Posted on Thursday 11th March 2021
Leo Coe with toy

Baby Leo

Seven-month-old Leo Coe is now thriving. He is starting to wean and loves his bouncer. 

Just hours after he was born at St Thomas’ Hospital, Leo underwent a complex procedure, which his medical teams had already prepared for, thanks to the detailed scans he received while still in the womb. The success of the operation was down to the early detection of his condition and collaboration between specialists at Evelina London, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust.

Leo's mum, Laura Teale, said: “Looking at Leo, you wouldn’t know he has a heart condition and a big operation.

“We feel incredibly lucky that Leo’s condition was picked up. No-one wants to have that diagnosis, but for Leo it might have been a completely different story if his condition hadn’t been picked up before he was born.

“This has saved his life and given him a better life. We’ve benefitted from this great partnership with specialists at Royal Brompton, Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Evelina London.

“We appreciate so much what all the doctors and nurses have done for Leo and us during this past year. We could never thank them enough.”

Leo has Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Drainage (TAPVD), a type of congenital heart disease where the veins that carry oxygenated blood back from the lungs don’t connect to the heart in the normal way.

This condition can make babies very sick, and some will need urgent surgery to redirect veins from their lungs to their heart soon after they are born. But it can be difficult to know which babies will need an early operation from ultrasound scans alone.

A problem with the baby’s heart was initially spotted when Leo’s mum went for her 20-week pregnancy scan. 

She was then referred to the fetal cardiology unit at Royal Brompton Hospital for further scans, and then to our fetal cardiology team at Evelina London – currently the only centre in the world to use the new 3D MRI technology.

Based on the fetal MRI scans of the heart and lungs, our team were concerned that Leo could become very unwell soon after birth, and arrangements were made for Laura to deliver in the operating theatre at St Thomas’ Hospital, with a surgeon from the Royal Brompton Hospital present and ready to perform the surgery.

After the surgery and 12 days in intensive care, then a week in another ward, Leo went home. 

Dr David Lloyd, from Evelina London, said: “It’s wonderful to see Leo doing so well. 3D fetal MRI scans allow our teams to see the baby’s heart, lungs and blood vessels in more detail before they are born. This enables us to give the best possible care to babies and their families.

Dr Laura Vazquez-Garcia, from Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “I’m very pleased that Leo is doing well. By sharing expertise and technology with Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Evelina London, we’ve been able to give Leo the best chance at good health.

Leo continues to be closely monitored at Evelina London