Procedure helps baby whose esophagus didn't connect to her stomach
(05/19/14) - A baby girl is beating the odds - after being born with a host of health problems - including a condition that affects one in 2,400 babies.
It causes the esophagus to end in a blind pouch - instead of connecting to the stomach - making it impossible to eat.
Now, a first of its kind procedure, using magnets, helped put this little girl back together again.
Say hello to the Lamb triplets. Ilyanna, Gideon and sleepy little Willow. The trio has overcome many obstacles together. The preemies came into the world at 27 weeks. Willow weighed only 1 pound, 13 ounces. Her fight for survival was about to begin.
"They came in and said, 'Well, she doesn't have an anus' and I'm like, 'What does that mean?' They're like, 'We are going to have check, but she does not have a hole,'" said their mother, Trelane Lamb.
At three days old, a colostomy was created for her anorectal malformation, and a g-tube, were placed after further testing revealed her esophagus was not connected to her airway.
"She had a tube down her throat that would suck out basically all of her secretions so that she could breathe because she could drown," Trelane said.
Then, eight-months later, Doctor Harold Lovvorn first performed surgery on her esophagus to bring together the upper and lower ends. What he'd do next was a first in the U.S. Instead of another major surgery to connect them, he used specially designed medical magnets.
"We can place them through her mouth and then through her gastrostomy tube up the lower esophagus, so that they would have their physical attraction for one another," Dr. Lovvorn said.
The magnets wear away at the tissue between them until they connect, creating a perfectly aligned opening between the two ends of the esophagus, allowing food, saliva and liquid to flow into Willow's body.
Now, she's developing nearly as well as her brother and sister.
Since Willow wasn't able to have her esophagus repaired until she was 8 months old, she missed the period of time when newborns learn to suck and swallow. Her mom says she's still adjusting to eating.