Any number of complications might bring an expectant mother into Thiet’s care. Some patients have chronic conditions that predate pregnancy: heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, HIV, cancer. Others develop problematic conditions while pregnant—preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm labor. Some patients are carrying more than one baby. Some have a history of problem pregnancy. Others are underweight or overweight, especially young, or simply over 35 years of age.
There’s also the chance that an unborn child will have complications, in which case UCSF—which pioneered fetal surgery 25 years ago and remains in the vanguard, with research in biological modeling, biomechanical engineering, and stem cell therapeutics—is the very best place to be.
I’m honored that my patients entrust me with the health of their entire family. In UCSF’s new hospitals, I’ll be able to live up to that trust by delivering the best care possible.
Whatever the risk factors, Thiet brings the same commitment to excellence and the same heartfelt connection to each mother and unborn child. “At UCSF, we accept people regardless of their economic circumstances, so I have the chance to work with underserved patients, who often face special challenges,” says Thiet. “When a woman has had little or no prenatal care—and limited access to health care even before she became pregnant—many things are beyond our control. But we muster every innovation available to help every woman deliver her baby safely.”
Safety is one of Thiet’s driving passions. “Obstetrics is multidisciplinary, with caregivers from several fields needing to coordinate,” she says. “To learn from one another, we run an obstetric simulation drill once a month, with a model emergency situation. We film it, then we sit down to critique it as a team.”
Thiet is deeply grateful for philanthropic gifts that will advance her work at UCSF’s future Mission Bay campus, soon to be one of the world’s most sophisticated settings for complex mother-and-child care. “There are still frontiers to conquer,” she says. “We’re working to understand what causes premature birth and preterm labor, why some women get preeclampsia, why the C-section rate has been increasing and how we can reduce it.”
Thiet is motivated to answer these questions by the wonders she experiences each day at UCSF. “The greatest moments are when I can work with a woman and her family to deliver both a healthy baby and a healthy mom,” she says. “It’s like I become part of those families for the rest of their lives.”