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Doctors Who Don't Give Up On You

August 3, 2015
Twenty-eight years ago, my son, Justen Michael Peeling, was born. He would not be here today if it were not for Dr. Khouzami and Dr. Claire Weitz and the care they gave in 1986-1987.

I was a very high-risk patient. Two other hospitals turned me away and suggested I terminate my pregnancy due to my blood pressure history. I had already had a daughter; she was five years old at the time, and my pregnancy with her was a close call – we both almost died.

Six years had gone by since my first child was born, and I really didn't think I would be able to conceive again. I was 26 at the time, and Justen would be my second child, I was frightened and so happy at the same time. I knew I would be under strict orders because of my previous complications, but I never thought I would be turned away by doctors and hospitals because of thoughts that I would not make it through the pregnancy.

I was referred to Greater Baltimore Medical Center by two specialists from St. Joesph's. I was told to ask for Dr. Victor Khouzami.

My husband and I met with Dr. Khouzami and were introduced to his then-partner, Dr. Claire Weitz. Dr. Khouzami had strict rules: no ice cream, no pickles, no salt whatsoever, no cheese, and everything I ate was to be baked or broiled. I met with a dietician, had frequent medical visits and was bedridden from my fourth month to my eighth month. Dr. Khouzami told me that if I expected to live through this pregnancy and birthing the baby, I had to listen to every word, every instruction.

I did listen to my doctors – every single command, every single word. After all, it wasn’t just about me and the new baby; I had my daughter and my husband to think about, as well.

I will never forget that time of my life. It was in August of 1987, a week before Justen decided to make his appearance to the world, that I was given permission to have one scoop of ice cream. You would have thought I had won a million dollars! I had only gained 23 pounds at the time – a total of 25 pounds when I gave birth.

My son's birth was a planned cesarean, and he was not supposed to make his appearance until September of 1987, but Justen decided to come a bit earlier. I was having contractions, so I had a stress test on August 25, 1987, and was sent home. But, my contractions never stopped. I came back to GBMC later that night and Dr. Weitz delivered my son because Dr. Khouzami was out of town.

I was wide awake, my blood pressure was monitored the entire time and the entire OR crew that night was awesome. I had my own cheerleaders in the OR that night, and Justen was born at 12:43 a.m. on August 26, 1987. My second miracle was given to me, and we both were going to be just fine. I held him and kissed him and still thank God for giving all of the beliefs and knowledge we needed to get us through that tumultuous time.

If it were not for GBMC, for Dr. Khouzami taking a chance on me and being the greatest doctor I have ever known, or the amazing assistance of Dr. Claire Weitz, neither my son nor I would be here today. I thank God every day for both of my miracle babies that are now 34 and almost 28 years old. Both are very successful and have grown up to be great adults.

GBMC has doctors that don't give up on people, and I was treated with the utmost respect and compassion. I just want to say thank you, still, to Dr. Khouzami, even after all these years. Though I'm sure he would not know me today, I have never forgotten him and his team. I now work for GBMC and have been here for about two years. I would never have thought I would be here after all these years, but it felt like coming home.

Because of GBMC, I was able to see my son, Justen, graduate not only from high school, but also from college and grow up into a wonderful man. I still tear up every time I think about the entire event of my pregnancy, and feel so very grateful, blessed and thankful for the outcome. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.
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