Welcome to our new fetal cardiology co-leads

Supporting families during pregnancy and after birth is a key part of the job for Dr Jonathan Forsey and Dr Alex Gooi, the Network’s newly appointed fetal cardiology co-leads.

As fetal cardiologists, Drs Forsey and Gooi diagnose and counsel families affected by congenital heart disease or heart rhythm abnormalities before babies are born (at 18-20 weeks). As part of a multidisciplinary team, their expert guidance and support helps families make informed decisions regarding their pregnancy, allowing them to make plans for onward care. This includes counselling regarding potential operations, procedures and long term outcomes and planning for a baby’s delivery.

Building a world-class fetal cardiology service for families across NSW is their priority, something they are committed to achieving through a compassionate and collaborative approach to care.

“We work closely with our fetal medicine colleagues in the major Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) referral centres in Sydney and across the whole of NSW. The majority of complex cardiac anomalies are now all detected antenatally, and with advances in technology, the ability to accurately diagnose these conditions even earlier in pregnancy is now possible,” Dr Forsey explained.

Dr Forsey undertook his medical and paediatric training in the UK and at Sick Kids Hospital, Toronto before starting at the Network in 2015. In his new role, Dr Forsey aims to strengthen relationships with the MFM referral services in Sydney.

“In consultation with them and our cardiac service colleagues, we hope to develop a truly state-wide service, providing the highest level of care to families affected by children’s heart conditions. I also look forward to building our service with the expansion of our nurse specialist roles and clinical psychology services,” Dr Forsey said.

Dr Gooi joined SCHN last year in May, after working for 14 years in Brisbane as a fetal cardiologist, where he helped establish an integrated state-wide fetal service. He completed his paediatric cardiology training in Sydney, London and the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. One of Dr Gooi’s key priorities is to help educate and upskill obstetrician sonographers and MFM specialists, so they can be confident in their abilities to conduct early fetal echocardiography.

“I hope with the implementation of early fetal echocardiography, parents no longer have to wait until the current 18-20 week mark to find out exactly what is wrong with their baby’s heart. We can now offer a fetal heart scan as early as 13-14 weeks to decrease the amount of stress and anxiety for parents who would normally have to wait five weeks for a confirmed diagnosis,” Dr Gooi said.

“In order to do this, I strongly believe in education and skill advancement for staff at the forefront of screening, especially our obstetric sonographers and MFM/obstetric imaging specialists, so they are able to screen systematically and hopefully detect cardiac anomalies much earlier. I’d like to create a service where our colleagues working at the forefront feel empowered and supported in their screening. By improving early detection rates before birth, parents have much more time to prepare for the rest of their pregnancy, ultimately leading to a smoother journey for both parents and baby,” added Dr Gooi.

The Network is developing a fetal cardiology service benchmarked against other national and international centres of excellence. Ultimately, the service aims to deliver the highest level of care to all families across NSW, no matter where they live.