Journey of BFMC through the years

From 2004 Onwards
Fetal Medicine – Clinical & Academics

The Concept

Bangalore Fetal Medical Centre (BFMC) was a concept that evolved when I was training at Kings College hospital in London with Profesasor Kypros Nicolaides, who is a legend in the field of fetal medicine. He has made numerous contributions to the care of the fetus with his research papers over the last 35 years and in addition, trained thousands of doctors across the worlds who are practicing fetal medicine according to the Fetal Medical Foundation guidelines.

The Realization

When I came back to Bangalore in 2004, I realized that there was a huge vaccum in the care of the fetus. We started in a small one room premise as a part of Sankarambal Nursing Home on Hayes road. On 31st December 2004, I did the first fetal scan at this place. Sankarambal Nursing Home was already established for over 40 years before we started BFMC as a part of it. I had unprecedented support in my endeavor from many gynecologists in the city to whom forever I will be indebted to. Dr Jaya Narendra, Dr Leela Rao, Dr Susheela Shetty, Late Dr Sita Bhathija to name a few

The Inspiration

Inspired by Prof Kypros Nicolaides, I realized that the only way to grow fetal medicine in the country would be to train other doctors who are aspiring to care for the fetus the way it is established by Fetal Medical Foundation and so started training doctors in Fetal medicine. Dr Veena Acharya was the first to join BFMC as a full time trainee way back in 2005 and has been instrumental in bringing up the whole centre not only with her excellent clinical acumen but also training aspirants in fetal medicine. In the subsequent years we continued training doctors on various residential programs.

Diploma in Fetal Medicine

In 2010, I became the first Indian to acquire the prestigious Diploma in fetal medicine from Fetal Medicine Foundation, UK being the result of publishing the first of its kind study on the effectiveness on the first trimester scan in detecting fetal structural anomalies.

The Initialization

In 2010, we established the first of its kind non-residential 12 months’ Fetal Ultrasound Program (FUP) and started training doctors in a structured curriculum based program guided by the Fetal Medicine Foundation standards and protocols. In 2011, Apollo Centre for Advanced Fetal Care, Delhi started the FUP courses in partnership with BFMC under the leadership of my dear friend and colleague Dr Anita Kaul, another well established Fetal Medicine Centre. In the subsequent 2 years, under the leadership of Dr Deepak Bansal FUP classes started in Ludhiana, Punjab. The same program went online in 2013 under Fetal and gynae imaging (FGi). This became the first online training program in Fetal Scanning benefiting several doctors across the globe who cannot travel to Bangalore, Delhi or Ludhiana to attend the on-site programs. FMF, UK recognized these courses by providing approval as theoretical courses, which is part of their certification process. With our 4th FUP onsite, with our education collaboration with Samsung company, we could telecast the classes via video-network, thus including FUP centres at Hyderabad, Nagpur, Pune, Kochi etc were started. Since then, we have conducted several short term theory and practical training courses which have become hugely popular amongst the Fetal Imaging and Obstetric fraternities.

The Growth

After a 6 years’ successful tenure at Hayes road as a part of Sankarambal Nursing Home, we moved to Richmond Road where we were in Rich Homes from 2011 to 2017 October. These six years saw another very good and satisfying stint of BMFC with continued delivery of high quality services to our fetuses, parents and trainee doctors. During this time, we established the IMA-BFMC fetal care centres across Bangalore. These centres are in other hospitals and areas so that mothers don’t have to travel across the city to meet us. Our BFMC-trained team of consultants is giving the care for these fetuses following the FMF and BFMC guidelines and protocols. This way we are reaching out to more mothers across the city. Subsequently, we have also started conducting regular monthly clinics at Hubli and Tumkur in partnership with local centres. These clinics are catering to the respective towns, high standard of care to the high risk fetuses and mothers. IMA fetal care centres provide fetal care services the way we have established at BFMC itself. If there is any problem detected in any of the fetuses we get together as a team and try to work harder to make life smoother for that particular fetus.

The Services

BFMC provides clinical expertise to patients who require fetal scanning; very importantly we also provide fetal therapy for all those unwell fetuses that need some support during pregnancy so that they can be born in a better condition and health after birth. However there will be some babies who will not make it very well or will have a difficult course in utero or outside. We provide evidence based counseling to all parents on these conditions, so that they are well informed and can make proper decisions about their pregnancies. We are able to provide excellent evidence based guidance to parents with our expert fetal medicine specialist team and emotional counselor, Mrs Purnachandrika.

We Specialize in

Chorionic Villous Sampling (CVS), Amniocentesis and Fetal Blood Sampling are the main diagnostic procedures performed at BFMC by trained Specialists with a very low risk of miscarriage and a proven track record. In addition, we specialize in therapeutic procedures for the fetus like fetal blood transfusions, shunting the fetal chest cavities, amniodrainage, fetal reduction, medical therapy for the fetus in certain conditions etc.

In April 2010, Dr. Veena and I went to Kings College Hospital and trained in Fetoscopic procedures under Prof. Kypros Nicolaides. Same year, in November 2010, we performed the first fetoscopic laser procedure for a monochorionic twin pregnancy in India. Subsequently we have performed well over 100 procedures for complicated monochorionic twins successfully and help many parents realize their dreams of having kids.

Pregnancy indeed is a very emotional journey for all parents. On top of it some problems major or even however minor it is, parents can get quite perturbed about it and therefore need help not just from the medical team but also emotionally. Sometimes parents may have to make difficult decisions about their pregnancy. Mrs. Poorna Chandrika who joined us in 2008 has been giving her services to all such parents and the much needed emotional support.

Dr Meenakshi Bhat, a Paediatrician, a clinical dysmorphologist and a well trained Geneticist joined our team in 2006. We together established the first ever joint Fetal Medicine-Genetics clinic at BFMC. This clinic has helped over a 1000 couples in their difficult journey to have healthy kids. Genetics and FM are mutually dependent fields and together we have grown in patient care and doctors’ training. Dr Meenakshi has been a mentor and guide to many aspiring Geneticists and Genetic counselors. We have the joint clinic at BFMC 2 – 3 days in a week.

Dedicated to the care of unborn from 2004, BFMC continues its endeavors to make life better for the fetuses and help as many as possible to get into this world smoothly and safely. In all this one must understand that not every fetus can have a smooth journey. Some babies will have a bumpy journey and our endeavor is to make it as best as possible for that fetus to achieve its goal. We believe that the Fetus is our focus and therefore we must do everything possible to make that journey for that baby as best as we possibly can.

We have a huge scientific research base and we do present and publish our studies done on Indian fetuses in various medical journals at national and international forum. I am also proud to say that from BFMC we have presented over 10 international papers and we have been part of the majority of national conferences and proud to present our own data of our babies that are scanned. There are many proud BFMC babies today and it gives us great pleasure, motivation and enthusiasm to do more in this field. We, wholeheartedly thank the unstinting support of many parents who have trusted us to look after their babies in the womb as this continues to inspire us more and more every day.

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