I love working with babies and children. They’re fun, resilient and they make me a better person. In my role as a fetal and pediatric surgeon, I care for babies before they’re born, at birth and as they grow.
As the surgical director at the Cincinnati Children’s Fetal Care Center, I believe fetal surgery (performing surgeries on unborn babies while they are still in the womb) allows us to help babies affected by severe health conditions in a way that conventional therapy cannot. The fetal center team works hard to provide care for the best possible outcomes for our patients. This care includes offering education, outreach and research for our families and the community.
I enjoy the priceless privilege of watching babies grow and develop. I sometimes get to follow a patient from when they were a fetus into young adulthood. My work in medicine was influenced by my grandfather, a traditional Chinese physician. I dreamed of becoming a doctor since childhood. I find human development and embryology fascinating and see life creation as astonishingly beautiful.
The many doctors I trained with in medical school and during my surgical residency sealed my decision to pursue a pediatric surgery career. The first successful fetal surgeries occurred in the 1990s by Dr. Michael Harrison, the “father of fetal surgery," at the University of California, San Francisco. My mentors (Dr. Scott Adzick, Dr. Timothy Crombleholme, and Dr. Alan Flake) trained under Dr. Harrison. They built the second fetal surgery program at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). I knew this was my calling, so I went to CHOP to complete fellowships in fetal surgery and pediatric surgery. Dr. Crombleholme created the Cincinnati Children’s Fetal Care Center, and I joined him after completing my fellowships.
After Dr. Crombleholme left Cincinnati Children’s in 2011, I continued to lead the fetal program as the surgical director and build the fetal care center with my partners and team members who share my vision.
We provide family-centered care as we evaluate and manage all types of fetal and pediatric surgery conditions. I believe open and clear communication with the patient and family is crucial. We give the family all the knowledge and information they need to understand their child’s medical or surgical condition. The child’s age — fetus, baby, child, young adult — does not change how we work with families.
I spend time explaining the child’s condition in words that are easy to understand. We educate the family about the condition’s natural history, the risks and benefits of each treatment option, expected long-term outcomes and any challenges the child may face.
The family is an integral part of a child’s care team. That’s why it’s so important to include them in their child’s management. We frequently see the positive impact of family involvement in a child’s health.
We are expanding our fetal center to include a special delivery unit that provides comprehensive care for healthy moms expecting babies with known medical or surgical conditions. This unit allows for immediate specialized care at Cincinnati Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU). At the same time, mom, baby and the family can be together in one location.
At Cincinnati Children’s, we celebrate some of the best outcomes in the country and the world for certain fetal and pediatric conditions. Our research works to continue this trend. We evaluate the impact of fetal interventions for various conditions (including amniotic band syndrome, bladder outlet obstruction, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, congenital lung lesions, fetal renal failure, fetal tumors, spina bifida, twin reversed arterial perfusion sequence, twin-twin transfusion syndrome.) We follow the short-term and long-term results of these high-risk patients.
I was named a top doctor by Castle Connolly Regional Top Doctors in 2020, 2019 and 2018. I was also recognized as a top doctor by Cincinnati Magazine in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015.
When I’m not at work, I love to be in nature — from the mountains to the beaches. I enjoy traveling and exploring all sorts of local foods and cultures. I grew up in Penang, Malaysia, as one of eight children. All of us were involved in the family business — selling herbal tea on the street.