Delivering Family Support

U-T profiles of notable local people

Dr. Sean Daneshmand is as close as a person can get to being Superman.

Not only does he deliver babies — many of them in high-risk situations — Daneshmand is also the founder of a nonprofit that helps families with newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Miracle Babies provides everything from counseling to gas vouchers for families going through emotional and financial hardships due to having a sick or premature newborn.

Daneshmand knows firsthand what that’s like because in 2002, his wife had pregnancy complications and his daughter was born at 34 weeks.

A decade later, Daneshmand’s efforts have earned him national attention, including as a CNN “Hero of the Week.”

The Carmel Valley doctor, who moved to San Diego in 1999, took some time to discuss his cause and whether obstetricians are allowed to speed on the freeway.

Q: Why do you specialize in high-risk pregnancies?

A: During my residency at UCLA, I was always drawn more to surgery. I realized, however, that I liked ultrasound and was more drawn to teaching obstetrics. I was, and still am, amazed at seeing loving families going through their pregnancies and having us, the obstetricians, be a part of the miraculous process.

Q: What’s the longest stretch of time you’ve been awake?

A: 48 hours. But now with my wonderful partners, that does not happen any longer.

Q: What is Miracle Babies, and why did you form it?

A: Miracle Babies is a nonprofit organization with the mission to provide support and financial assistance to families with critically ill newborns in the NICU. I, along with many other volunteers, started Miracle Babies so that parents with sick newborns in financial hardship could still afford the daily commitments of life (mortgage, rent, gas, etc.) and be with their sick newborn. The emotional stress of having a sick baby is indescribable, and to top it off, with a bad economy and financial difficulties that many people are facing, it makes it hard to focus on what is really important — spending time with their angels both mentally and physically.

Q: Besides your own, what’s your most memorable delivery?

A: The memories of why Miracle Babies was born are numerous. Many times I would ask patients how often they are seeing their baby and the answer would be, “Doctor, we only have one car and can’t get to the NICU every day,” or “Doctor, we have 13 cents to our name and can’t afford to come every day” or “Doctor, we just sold our car so that we can afford rent and be able to visit our baby” and the list goes on. The memories are no longer a difficult delivery or how many deliveries I have done but seeing the smile on people’s faces when they see their newborn. Seeing wonderful, caring parents starting a family and caring for those children so they can be independent thinkers when they grow up.

Q: Are obstetricians allowed to speed on the freeway?

A: No.

Q: What is something people would be surprised to find out about you?

A: I believe that every child needs to learn more about the brain anatomy and physiology as a mandatory class in elementary and high school. I do believe that if every one knew and understood the most important organ in the body (the human brain), people would be much better and civilized toward one another.

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working?

A: Spend time with my family, my No. 1 priority in life.

Q: Where is the best cup of coffee in San Diego?

A: My house — I make the best coffee!

Q: Please describe your ideal San Diego weekend.

A: Going for a hike, then off to breakfast with my wife and daughter (and poodle). Playing tennis and then hanging out at the house with an early dinner and movies.

Source: U-T San Diego, By Story by Nina Garin, photo by Nelvin c. cepeda

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