The Center for Mothers and Newborns and UCSF Children’s Medical Center will
star in a new documentary that features high-risk deliveries and natural
childbirth, a “miracle” baby born after five miscarriages, and a newborn
delivered at this children’s hospital so he could have rare heart surgery just
days after birth.
The documentary, “Maternity Ward: A Long Road,” will air at 9 pm and midnight
on Tuesday, May 29, on TLC (The Learning Channel), Channel 50 on most Bay Area
cable systems. It is one of two hour-long programs for TLC’s Maternity Ward
series that were filmed at the University of California, San Francisco in a
month-long project directed by New York Times Television.
TLC producers chose the title “A Long Road” for this new episode as viewers see
how even the most normal birth is a journey that will change lives forever. For
women with high-risk pregnancies, the road can seem unending, perilous, and
sometimes merciless. For those who care for them in a major medical center, the
journey is one toward greater understanding - a quest for knowledge. It’s the
job of the hospital staff to bring each patient to her desired destination - a
healthy birth - by using a blend of knowledge and skill, technology and
* In the maternity ward, J.T. “Bill” Parer, MD, an Australian native, is known
for his dry humor, compassion, and teaching skills. Internationally, he’s known
for his work in fetal heart monitoring and high-altitude medicine, as an expert
on high-risk pregnancy and as chief of labor and delivery at UCSF. But to
mothers who have lost many pregnancies to miscarriage, he will always be
remembered for the transabdominal cerclage, a procedure that allows them at
last to carry a baby to full term.
* Along with his reputation as one of the world’s top pediatric heart surgeons,
Frank Hanley, MD, is known to parents for his wisdom and gentle manner. He
comforts young parents who have come to UCSF because the baby they’re expecting
has a serious heart defect. Hanley will need to operate on their son within
days of his birth. He’ll perform a single-stage unifocalization, redirecting
blood from many small vessels between the lungs and heart, into reconstructed
larger vessels that will support adequate blood flow. This procedure on
newborns has been attempted by only a few experts, in only a few hospitals
around the world.
* At UCSF, certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) make up part of the OB/GYN faculty.
In her complex role as midwife, nurse, advocate, advisor and ally, Tekoa King,
CNM, helps one woman succeed through a painful, but natural, childbirth. She
helps another, whose labor does not progress after long hours, make the
decision to have her baby delivered by Cesarean section. As licensed health
care practitioners, CNMs provide health care to women and newborns, while
focusing on the emotional and social needs of the family. CNMs are qualified to
administer medication and perform medical procedures, and are experienced in
supporting natural childbirth. They work with each woman to decide how much to
rely on technology, with respect for her preferences and knowledge about her
* Senior resident Gillian Dean, MD, represents the new generation of OB/GYN - a
heady synthesis of medical knowledge and a down-to-earth style. Her skills are
called into action when she prepares for and performs a C-section to
prematurely deliver the baby of a woman who’s contracted a food-borne illness,
and when she helps a pregnant woman cope with the agonizing side-effects of
medication meant to stop pre-term labor.
In the documentary, mothers and babies receive skilled and dedicated care from
these specialists and from the nurses, doctors and staff of the Center for
Mothers and Newborns, the Women’s Health Center, the UCSF Children’s Medical
Center intensive care nursery, operating room staff, pediatric intensive care
unit, pediatric cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery groups
Actress and screenwriter Polly Draper, best known for her role as Ellyn Waren
in “thirtysomething,” narrates the “Maternity Ward” documentaries. The series
is produced by NYT Television with Liane Thompson as the executive producer.
For TLC, Kathy Davidov is the executive producer.
TLC (The Learning Channel), a service of Discovery Networks, reaches more than
78 million homes in the United States and 6.8 million homes in Canada. In the
Bay Area, it is shown on Channel 50 on ATT Broadband Cable and Channel 40 on
AT&T Golden Gateway cable systems. (Check your local cable TV listings.)
Also look for repeat TLC broadcasts of “Maternity Ward: Cutting the Cord,”
airing next on July 24, 2001 at 9 PM and midnight. This show highlights the
work of the Center for Mothers and Newborns’ medical and nursing team as they
care for patients whose individual life stories bring a unique character to