Gratitude for developments in infant and pediatric care and medicine
When Cassie Angle, four months pregnant, and her husband Erik arrived at the diagnostic imaging center in Roseville for a routine ultrasound, the two were excited they were going to see their unborn baby and learn if they were going to have a girl or a boy. As the ultrasound tech guided the transducer over Cassie’s abdomen, the two watched the ultrasound screen in awe. “Well, you are definitely having a boy,” the tech said. Cassie and Erik smiled at each other and clasped hands.
“However,” the tech went on, there’s an area in your baby’s intestines that is concerning.” Cassie and Erik learned there were blockages in the tiny baby’s intestines, which happens in one out of 5,000 babies. Cassie’s obstetrician, Jose Cueto, M.D., and a team of high risk obstetrical experts would have to monitor Cassie and the baby every month until the baby was born. In addition, Dr. Cueto advised the couple to meet with a pediatric surgeon since the newborn would need surgery immediately after birth in order to survive.
Overjoy to worry
Cassie and Erik went from being overjoyed parents to being overwhelmed with worry about the arrival of their son. After meeting with pediatric surgeon, Joy Graf, M.D., who would perform the surgery, the two tried to remain calm. But they looked toward the baby’s due date with mounting apprehension.
Baby Dalton arrived a month early. Cassie delivered Dalton at Sutter Roseville Medical Center on Friday, January 6, 2012, at 6 pounds, 2 ounces. On the outside, he looked like a normal healthy baby. On the inside, the little baby needed significant medical help. During his development Dalton had no blood flow to his intestines in key locations, causing blockage in eight different areas.
After Cassie and Erik held and kissed their newborn son, an emergency pediatric transfer team carefully bundled the baby into an isolette in the back of a special transport ambulance and took Dalton to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento.
8 Hour surgery
Early the next day Dr. Graf and a team of surgical experts performed an eight-hour surgery to remove the blockages in little Dalton’s abdomen. Cassie and Erik called the surgery day the longest day ever. When Dr. Graf finally emerged from the operating room she advised the two worried parents that the surgery went well. But, she cautioned, due to the many intestinal blockages she had to correct, Dalton would need to be carefully monitored in the NICU, where he would be fed by tubes in his stomach and his intestines. Dr. Graf also told the parents that Dalton would need a second surgery to complete the repair work. If the second surgery failed to complete the repair, Dalton would have to live his life with external feeding and drainage tubes.
Baby Dalton remained in NICU from Jan. 7 through March 19, undergoing the second surgery on March 9, which was deemed successful. Cassie visited the baby every day, making the drive from Grass Valley to Sacramento and back. Not only did she bond with her sweet baby, she also got to know the NICU staff. She appreciated their expertise and kindness. During NICU visits Cade and Addie drew pictures for their tiny baby brother and played music for him from their parent’s iPod.
10 weeks of NICU
Dalton recovered well and after 10 weeks of NICU care, Dr. Graf deemed Dalton healthy and ready to go home. At home, Cassie and Erik decorated the baby’s crib with a colorful bumper and comforter. Cade and Addie lined up stuffed animals in the crib to greet their baby brother.
Dalton, now 14 months old, is a happy, healthy baby. Cassie and Erik are grateful for all the support they received from the doctors, nurses and other staff who cared for Dalton before and after his surgery. They want to do what they can to give back. For the second year in a row, Erik will participate in the annual Sacramento March of Dimes Walk, to be held on Saturday, April 27, at the State Capitol. Funds raised from the walk support local programs to help mothers have healthy pregnancies and also funds research to find answers to the serious problems that threaten babies.
Lucky and grateful
This year Cassie, Cade, Addie and little Dalton will join Erik for the Walk. “We’ve been blessed,” said Erik. “It’s fantastic seeing how healthy Dalton is. Just a few years ago, the surgery performed on Dalton did not exist.
He would not have survived without the constant developments in infant and pediatric care and medicine. We are very lucky and very grateful parents.”
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