The Race to Save Grace

For immediate release: July 22, 2014

Child of Doctors Seeks Care from Children's Heart Program

It’s the last visit with her endocrinologist. While he listens to Grace’s heart and lungs with his stethoscope, he picks up a faint, irregular sound as her heart beats—a heart murmur. A month later, just after Grace’s second birthday, her pediatrician has to place her in several different positions before he, too, hears the murmur. He orders a chest X-ray and an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check for electrical problems in her heart. By mid-December, the results are in. The EKG is abnormal. The pediatrician recommends Grace see a pediatric cardiologist.

On January 15, Grace’s mother, Dr. Kathy Weishaar, takes her to the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), in Baltimore. Dr. Weishaar, an adult internal medicine specialist who earned her medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, chose UMCH because she’s familiar with the high quality of care that School of Medicine faculty physicians provide at the Children’s Hospital and the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Grace undergoes another EKG and an echocardiogram (also called an echo), which uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart.

“We assumed it would be a benign murmur, but when they told us the diagnosis, I was floored,” says Dr. Weishaar.  “They said it was so serious, they didn’t want to send her home. It was kind of surreal, all very emotional.”

“I was shocked,” says her husband, Dr. Robert Rice, a cancer specialist. “When the doctors at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital saw Grace’s ultrasound, they knew immediately what the problem was and took immediate action. She needed to be admitted; she needed surgery the next day.”

Continue reading Grace's story and watch her video.