Coping with the unexpected is what Children's Hospital does every day. But sometimes surgeons can anticipate trouble -- and carefully plan surgery to correct it. Such was the case last year with a girl from the Virginia suburbs whose problems were well-known to doctors before she was even born -- and who underwent surgery to correct the problems when she was only 8 hours old. My associate in this year's Children's Hospital fund-raising campaign, Deborah Schwartz, has the story:

Ann Marie Fogarty was barely 8 hours old when doctors at Children's Hospital prepared to operate on her. But today she is an energetic, happy, healthy 5-month-old whose skills and development are perfectly normal. The difference was a well-planned sequence of events -- and a surgeon at Children's.

Ann Marie was born with an omphalocele, a birth defect in which her liver and part of her intestines formed outside her body. The two organs, covered by a thin membrane, resembled a softball. Other organs, such as the bladder, heart, rectum and spinal cord, can appear as omphaloceles in other children.

Last March, Barbara and Patrick Fogarty moved to Annandale from Erie, Pa., because of Patrick's job as a commercial airline pilot. At the time they were excited about Barbara's being pregnant with their first child. The following month, about halfway through the pregnancy, Barbara's gynecologist sent her for a routine sonogram to deterimine how far along the pregnancy was.

"Immediately, as soon as {the doctor} started to do the sonogram, they saw that there was an extra bubble on the baby's abdomen," said Barbara. "We had no idea what it was, but they knew something was wrong. So they had four or five people run into the room."

At that time, the doctor told the Fogartys that he had found what he thought was an omphalocele. This type of defect occurs once in every 5,000 births.

The Fogartys were sent to the genetics department at Children's. Genetics counselors told Patrick and Barbara that a child born with an omphalocele could have chromosome abnormalities or Down's syndrome and it was possible that Ann Marie might not survive.

"They told us everything that they had to tell us which was that the baby could possibly be brain-damaged and that she might not survive. {I was told} that I could carry her for nine months and that she might not even make it through the surgery or she could go through the surgery and she might have brain damage," said Barbara.

"They even brought up terminating the pregnancy," said Patrick.

Abortion "wasn't something that we were really considering doing so they suggested that we go to George Washington University {Hospital} and have an amniocentesis done which would determine whether or not there was any chromosome damage," said Barbara.

The amniocentesis showed that there were no chromosomal abnormalities. So Patrick and Barbara began making plans for Ann Marie's delivery.

The Children's genetics department recommended that the Fogartys see Dr. Kathryn Anderson, a pediatric surgeon, to discuss what kind of operation would be necessary and to see if they felt comfortable with her.

"So when we met Dr. Anderson, she tried to explain to us what type of procedures they would use depending on how big the omphalocele was and what {organs} it did consist of," said Barbara. "It was just very scary to think that after we did have her and she did survive that she would still possibly be in the hospital for maybe six months."

Dr. Anderson took the Fogartys on a tour of the nursery at Children's. "Everybody was very nice and we were very confident that she was going to be taken care of. Right from the beginning the thing that we both really liked about {Dr. Anderson} so much was that she was so confident that she would be able to do the surgery. There was just no doubt in our mind that she was going to be the one to do it and that if Ann Marie was in good hands, it was with her. It made us feel a lot more at ease that she really knew what she was doing," said Barbara.

Barbara and Patrick tried not to anticipate the worst.

"We tried to go along as normal as possible," Barbara recalled. "The only thing that was real hard was when it was getting closer to the time {Ann Marie would be born} we were real unsure about decorating the nursery and bringing the crib home because we didn't know how long she'd be in the hospital or even if she'd come home from the hospital."

Ann Marie was born on Aug. 19 at 9:27 a.m. at Fairfax Hospital. Within two hours, she was taken to Children's by ambulance.

She underwent surgery about 5 p.m. the same day. But before Ann Marie left Fairfax, she was baptized -- just in case.

"The nice thing was that everything was calm and planned in a nice controlled way. {The Fogartys} knew who we were," said Dr. Anderson.

"It was nice to take care of her. It was successful and she's a perfectly healthy little girl."

The procedure Dr. Anderson performed consisted of pushing the exposed organs back into Ann Marie's abdomen and closing up the opening. It was a very tight fit, according to Dr. Anderson. And side effects developed.

Once Ann Marie's liver and intestines had been pushed back inside, there was considerable pressure on her diaphragm. For several days, Ann Marie required a ventilator to help her breathe. The Fogartys remember Dr. Anderson telling them it was a good thing the baby was a girl, because girls are usually stronger.

"When Dr. Anderson came out {of surgery}, we were in the waiting room. She came out with a big smile on her face. She said, 'We got it all in,' " said Patrick.

The only memento of Ann Marie's experience is a scar and some scar tissue in the center of her abdomen. In addition, she has a hernia, which will require corrective surgery. But Dr. Anderson plans to wait until after Ann Marie's first birthday because there's no reason to rush.

"It's funny, before something like this happens to you, you know that {Children's} is there. You know that they do exist but you never really get involved," said Barbara.

"We're just very thankful that she came through everything and that she is here."

A few more groups that have made their presence felt in recent days with donations to the campaign:

Fowl Weather Ladies Bowling Team ($39.25).

Employes of WINX Radio ($20).

The Artery Organization Inc., Bethesda ($925).

Personnel and Employment Service-Washington, Department of the Navy ($640 raised through the annual Christmas party and raffle).

The Ground Coffee Fund, Building 213, Washington Navy Yard ($1,200).

The Monday Morning Open Bowling League, which rolls at Annandale Lanes ($50 in memory of Elvin J. Willcock Jr.).

Thank you, one and all! TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAMPAIGN:

Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 20071.