Building a team of experts.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital Chief of Oncology Shilajit D. Kundu, MD, knew that Jessica’s team needed to be assembled quickly. He immediately called Vascular Surgeon Mark K. Eskandari, MD, who reviewed Jessica’s scans and felt confident in his expertise to remove the aggressive tumor.
I helped build this team of experts within Northwestern Medicine who I know are the best at what they do.
There were two hearts at stake.
Not many mothers have to make the difficult decision to give birth at 31 weeks. But Jessica was running out of time to give herself the best chance of survival. With trust in her team, she went into the operating room for a C-section, and her baby girl was delivered by Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist Nevert Badreldin, MD. The operation went smoothly, and one important piece of the puzzle was in place. Jessica and her husband named their baby girl Julia, and even though she was born nine weeks early, she was remarkably healthy.
Ultimately, her C-section went very well, but there was still a lot of uncertainty moving forward.
After Julia was born, another scan of Jessica’s abdomen revealed that the tumor had progressed by a few centimeters, a startling amount of growth in just a few weeks. Surgery to remove it would be long and complex, but Jessica and her family had no other choice.
Because of the large size of her tumor invading her vena cava, her liver and into her heart, Jessica required a multidisciplinary team.
Just three days after Julia was born, Jessica had recovered enough to undergo the complex surgery to remove her tumor. There was no time to lose. Transplant Surgeon Juan C. Caicedo, MD, Urologic Oncologist Shilajit D. Kundu, MD, Vascular Surgeon Mark K. Eskandari, MD, Cardiac Surgeon Duc Thinh Pham, MD, Surgical Oncologist Jeffrey D. Wayne, MD, and a team of nurses gathered for the intense 10-hour surgery. Driven by a relentless passion for providing world-class care, Jessica’s team was focused and ready.
Once we had a plan in place, everyone stepped in and did their job flawlessly.
As she was given general anesthesia, Jessica closed her eyes and thought of her family and new baby girl. Once she was in a deep sleep, her team put her body on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine to temporarily take over the function of her heart and lungs.
The only way to reach the tumor was to temporarily remove some of the organs and tissue attached to it. First, Dr. Caicedo opened Jessica’s abdomen and removed her liver, detaching it from her inferior vena cava and the tumor that clung onto it. Dr. Kundu then did the same with her kidneys and retroperitoneum, the tissue that lines the abdominal walls and holds most of the organs in place.
Next, Dr. Eskandari removed the inferior vena cava that was consumed by cancer. He replaced it with a prosthetic vein that would now do the blood-transporting work of the inferior vena cava for the rest of Jessica’s life.
Then, Dr. Pham opened up the right atrium of Jessica’s heart and located the remaining piece of the tumor that had grown into it. He carefully moved the tumor down into the abdomen so it could be safely removed from the body.
At this point, it was time for the last phase of Jessica’s operation: putting her organs back into their proper places. Dr. Caicedo and Dr. Kundu transplanted Jessica’s kidneys, liver and retroperitoneum tissue back into her body and closed up her incision.
The procedure was an incredible success and Jessica woke up cancer-free.
Without multidisciplinary involvement, this could not have been done. We were all willing to fight for her.
None of this happens without the outstanding care of our entire nursing staff. From the initial nurses who took care of Jessica on her admission to the hospital, to our nurses in the operating room who are really second to none, to the nurses on the floor and in the ICU who took care of her in the post-op period. It really is a collaborative team effort. While the physicians are the ones that get a lot of the credit, our nursing staff earns and deserves just as much credit.
What makes us better, makes you better.®
Jessica is now back where she’s meant to be.
After being closely monitored for a week in the hospital, Jessica went home to focus on healing and recovery with her family. Now, she feels healthy again and never takes a moment with her husband and two children for granted. She has returned to Northwestern Medicine several times for follow-up scans to ensure her cancer hasn’t returned, and every visit is an incredible reminder of the two hearts that Northwestern Medicine saved.
I’m beyond grateful to have ended up at the right hospital with the right team at the right time. Julia is now a healthy, happy 1-year-old, and I feel wonderful.
Leading the way.
With the top-ranked cancer program in Illinois for nine straight years,* Northwestern Memorial Hospital has outstanding experts in the field. Our teams come together to take on the toughest cases and most complex procedures like Jessica’s every day.
It’s a great honor to be part of a system like Northwestern Medicine where multiple experts can get together and provide this level of care to a patient like Jessica.