On a chilly October Thursday in 1987, Nancy and Randall Allen nervously waited to find out the condition of their newborn son. Only a week old and born three months premature, Benjamin had trouble breathing, his color was purple, and he was very weak.
Zuhdi Lababidi, director of pediatric cardiology at MU Health Care, examined the fragile baby and found that he was suffering from a life-threatening congenital blockage in his heart known as coarctation of the aorta.
Before 1982, the only method for correcting this condition in infants was surgically removing the narrowed segment of aorta blocking the flow of blood and reconnecting the ends directly. But in that year, Lababidi pioneered a new method at the hospital to treat patients diagnosed with coarctation with a procedure called balloon coarctation angioplasty.
Normally, doctors insert a narrow catheter equipped with an inflatable balloon to force the aorta open. But because Benjamin weighed less than two pounds, the catheter could not be inserted through the tiny artery in the groin, and surgery could not be performed.
The only alternative was to insert the catheter through the larger umbilical artery, which involved turning the catheter 180 degrees. This variation in the procedure, originally created by Lababidi, had never been tried before.
An hour after the procedure, Benjamin’s heart was functioning normally, his body no longer laboring under heart failure.
This is one of the milestones MU Health Care has seen over the past 50 years since its opening, which it celebrated this fall.
The hospital, which opened Sept. 16, 1956, specializes in treating the most severe illnesses and injuries. It offers the only Level I trauma center in mid-Missouri, numerous intensive care units and highly specialized medical and surgical services.
The hospital also offers the George David Peak Memorial Burn Care Center, central Missouri’s only intensive care unit for burns, as well as the SameDay Surgery Center, which offers hundreds of procedures in its fully equipped operating rooms.
The celebrate its 50th anniversary, the hospital held a gala and honored several staff members with the Golden Column Awards and Hope and Spirit Awards. The Golden Column Awards were designed to recognize hospital employees — past and present — who have helped achieve the health system mission in the areas of service, people, quality, finance, growth and community. The Hope and Spirit Awards is designed to recognize patients who demonstrate courage and perseverance in overcoming extraordinary circumstances in their life.