St. Luke's University Health Network


    • St. Luke's and St. Chris's Saves Local Baby

St. Luke's and St. Chris's Saves Local Baby

St. Luke’s  University Health Network  and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children Help Make Mother’s Day a Little More Heartfelt for Allentown Family

Luke Youse


Luke Youse

Philadelphia, PA (5/15/2014) – Mother’s Day 2013 was a special day for Laurel and Scott Youse, of Allentown, PA. It was the day that they found out they were pregnant with their first child.

“We were so excited,” says Laurel, 37-years-old. “We had waited a long time to get pregnant and we just felt so ready.”

For the most part, Laurel had an uneventful pregnancy until a routine ultrasound revealed a potential heart defect in the fetus. She was referred to the St. Luke’s Perinatal Center in Bethlehem, Pa., where the baby was evaluated by perinatologist Joseph Bell, MD.  He suspected that the baby had a serious heart condition that would need surgical repair, and the family was referred to a pediatric cardiologist at the Heart Center at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.

At St. Christopher’s,  the diagnosis was confirmed – severe coarctation of the aorta in utero – a narrowing of the aorta which is sometimes not diagnosed in a timely manner during fetal life, according to Rula Balluz, MD, Attending Cardiologist at St. Christopher’s Heart Center.

“Early diagnosis of this serious heart condition allows physicians to administer lifesaving medications at birth,” says Dr. Balluz. “This helps prevent further damage to the heart and other organs. In Luke’s case, he would require surgery upon delivery to correct the defect.”

“No one wants to hear that their baby is not perfect,” says Laurel. “To hear that something was wrong, and then to have it confirmed, was a mix of emotions. What was this going to mean for our baby’s future?”

To complicate matters, Laurel developed HELLP syndrome.

“HELLP syndrome is a serious pregnancy complication usually considered to be a complication of pre-eclampsia,” says Dr. Balluz. “It typically occurs during the later stage of pregnancy.” 

Luke and Laurel Youse


Luke and Laurel Youse on Mother’s Day

This syndrome has no treatment, added Dr. Bell, and the only way to “cure” it is to deliver the baby, he says.

To alleviate these complications from becoming a serious health risk to mom and baby, Laurel delivered two months early on November 24.  Baby Luke was born at St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem weighing 3 pounds, 13 ounces.  Luke was stabilized by St. Luke’s neonatologists and was readied for transfer.  Laurel and Scott were able to see their newborn for 30 minutes before St. Christopher’s Critical Care Transport Team transported Luke to St. Christopher’s NICU where he spent the next two months gaining weight and developing until he reached the desired six pounds for surgery.

In January 2014, Achintya Moulick, MD, Chief, Section of Cardiothoracic Surgery at St. Christopher’s, and his team operated on Luke, removing the narrowed section of his aorta and reconnecting the ends.

The surgery was a success and Luke continues to be monitored by physicians at St. Luke’s University Health Network and St. Christopher’s. According to Dr. Balluz, Luke is expected to live a normal, healthy life.

“Despite it being such an emotional time, the communication between St. Luke’s and St. Chris made the entire experience feel smooth,” says Laurel. “I consider the staff at St. Chris an extension of our family. The way they made us feel so at ease and comforted is truly amazing.”

Laurel adds that for Mother’s Day 2014, she, Luke and Scott, enjoyed the weekend running along trails near their home and celebrating with family.

“We’ve come so far since last Mother’s Day,” says Laurel. “I never could have imagined or prepared myself for the journey that would lie ahead, but we are blessed every day to have Luke here with us.”

About St. Christopher’s Hospital

Since 1875, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children has been providing exceptional patient care and advancing new pediatric treatments through research and innovation. Through affiliations with Drexel University College of Medicine and Temple University School of Medicine, St. Christopher’s is a teaching hospital helping to train the next generation of professionals in pediatric medicine.

A 189-bed hospital, St. Christopher’s is committed to delivering high quality family-and patient-centered care to children throughout the greater Delaware Valley. Its highly acclaimed programs include a Level I Pediatric Trauma Center, Level IV NICU, a Heart Center and Oncology/Transplant unit. Hospital services also include the only dedicated pediatric burn center in the area. Thanks to our nursing excellence, St. Christopher’s achieved Magnet status in 2009. Numerous St. Christopher’s physicians are frequently recognized in regional publications as “Top Docs” in their fields of expertise. In 2012, St. Christopher’s announced a $110 million expansion to include two new structures. The Critical Care Tower, which features advanced technology while incorporating families’ needs, will house 50 critical care and 60 Level IIIC NICU beds. The Center for the Urban Child will provide children with comprehensive services to help break the cycles of food insecurity, violence and childhood illness.

To learn more about St. Christopher’s, visit or call 215-427-5000.


***NOTE: Laurel and Scott Youse, and Dr. Balluz are available for media interviews. Please contact Kelsey Jacobsen to arrange.***
Dr. Bell is available for interviews through Denise Rader, St. Luke’s University Health Network, 484-526-4104.

Kelsey Jacobsen
Senior Public Relations Specialist
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Marketing and Communications Department
160 East Erie Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19134
Phone: 215-427-5400
Cell: 215-519-6098

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