Saturday, April 14, 2007


There have been some rumors among the heart community that things are changing at UCSF.

A lot of the parents are concerned about what is going on. More recently we have heard that Dr. Karl, the chief of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at UCSF is no longer doing surgery there. I know one mom who has been emailing her PC with questions, and I of course have been making some phone calls. I talked with the CNS the other day and asked her to convince me to go to UCSF for surgery. I am feeling unsure about it and really just wanted her to tell me that it's one of the best places in the country for pediatric heart surgery, that the surgeons are among the best in their field and that we would be crazy not to go there. She didn't exacty say that.

She did say that our surgeon, Dr. Azakie, is very well respected and that UCSF is a high volume heart center, they have been doing these surgeries for 30 years and have a lot of experience. She also said that she has heard that some parents complain of it feeling a bit like a factory, with less "hand-holding" and some difficulty in talking to the surgeons or cardiologists as often as they would like. She suggested I call our cardiologist to ask his opinion.

So I did. He called me right back (love that!). He said that UCSF is liking the surgical results that Dr. Azakie is getting better than those that Dr. Karl is getting. They have promoted Dr. Azakie and are "turning away from Dr. Karl." Not sure what that means exactly. I shared my concerns that "politics" might be getting in the way of providing the best possible care for our kids. He said he was unaware that anything was going on in the ICU or anywhere else, all he knew about was the stuff with Dr. Karl. But he did say he would check into it and let me know. He also said he has the utmost respect for the cardiologists there and that he thinks we should proceed with the heart cath at UCSF on May 1st. Once we get the results he said we could possibly send Drew's records to some other surgeons and see if anyone would do anything differently.

Up until this point I have been completely comfortable at UCSF because of the dedicated pediatric heart center. I feel better knowing that Drew will be somewhere where all the nurses/doctors/staff do all day every day is take care of cardiac kids. I also completey trust Dr. Azakie because he did Drew's first two heart surgeries and I feel that he knows Drew's heart the best. So I guess I am looking for some reassurance that UCSF is the best place to be, that the doctors and staff are among the best in their field, and that there is a high rate of favorable surgical results. Why can't this be easier?


Anonymous said...

UCSF is a fantastic peds cardiac hospital!! Know that politics are always involeved in hospitals but pediatric doctors are the best about putting it aside when it comes to providing excellant care for the kids!

Jessica said...

I sincerely hope you find peace in your heart about this. My thoughts are with you all!

Ken Norton said...

Andrea, I know you're a regular reader of Riley's blog so you're aware that we too are concerned about UCSF and Dr. Karl's departure and are looking at other centers. I'd like to compare notes - you can email me for more - ken AT kennethnorton DOT com

Ken Norton (Riley's dad)