Jennifer and Raul Carrizales, of Eau Claire, had planned to spend a quiet evening at home on New Year’s Eve, babysitting Raul’s sister’s two children.
It didn’t turn out that way. Instead, the couple, who were anticipating their second son to be born in early February, ended up at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children's Hospital in Marshfield after Jennifer developed HELLP Syndrome. Baby Alijandro, was born a few hours later—in fact, at 12:53 a.m. January 1, he was the 2011 New Year’s Baby at the hospital.
“HELLP syndrome stands for a combination of ‘H’ for hemolysis, which is a breakdown red blood cells, ‘EL’ for elevated liver enzymes, and ‘LP for low platelet count, an essential blood clotting element,” said Alison Sampson, DO, a Marshfield Clinic obstetrician on staff at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children's Hospital. “It is exclusive to pregnancy. But we don’t know what causes it, and can’t always identify those who will develop it.”
Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, pain in the upper abdomen and/or water retention.
“I was feeling some upper abdominal pain in my stomach for a few days, so I went to Sacred Heart Hospital that morning to get it checked out,” Jennifer said. “The staff diagnosed the problem and told me I needed to be transferred. They said that if our baby was born at 34 to 35 weeks of gestation, they did not have the capabilities to treat the baby or the mother with my condition. So they had an ambulance transport me to the Perinatal Center in Marshfield.”
Since Jennifer was at 34 weeks of gestation, the risk to her was greater than the risk of premature birth for the baby. “The rate at which HELLP develops is variable, but with Jennifer it happened very quickly, so we decided to induce labor,” said Sampson. “Thankfully, everything progressed very well. Usually, the risk to the mother is improved after delivery, but Jennifer continued to have some problems with her blood cells. Her platelets got dangerously low, so we gave her a blood transfusion. Because her liver was also very inflamed, it was decided to transfer her into the Intensive Care Unit to monitor her in an acute care setting. If bleeding from the liver resulted, we had trauma surgeons ready to step in.”
Fortunately, the situation was controlled, and the next day, Jennifer was transferred back to the Birth Center. Baby Alijandro, meanwhile, born at 4 pounds, 14½ ounces, was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, located right next door.
“Alijandro was a bit premature and had some respiratory distress,” said Karla Johns, NICU RN. “By the next day he was on room air, breathing on his own. The third day he also needed phototherapy for a mild case of jaundice.”
“HELLP syndrome, if not treated early, can have serious lasting effects,” said Sampson. “Luckily, in Jennifer’s case, she was quickly diagnosed and transferred to our Perinatal Center that has the resources and staff on site to care for high risk moms and premature newborns—from perinatologists, neonatologists, anesthesiologists and the on-site blood bank. She should recover fully, and there is no evidence of permanent damage.”
Jennifer was discharged January 5. She and Raul are looking forward to taking Alijandro home soon to join big brother Carlito, age 2.
“Bringing her to Marshfield was the best for Jennifer and the baby, even having to drive through freezing rain to get here,” said Raul. “You never want to have to deal with something like this, but if it happens, this is the place to be.”
Cali Busche of Stratford was a miracle the day she was born. She was born premature with congenital heart disease and spent her first few weeks of life in the NICU at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children's Hospital. In her first year of life she had many hospitalizations. Cali was one of the Miracle children for Children’s Miracle Network in 1999. In 2001 Cali underwent open-heart surgery at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children's where she spent time in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and on the Pediatric Unit.
Today, Cali attends Stratford Elementary School and enjoys playing outside, riding her bike, listening to Hannah Montana music and keeping up with her sisters. Cali loves animals, especially frogs and her dog, Jack. She is doing well from a cardiac standpoint, with no future surgeries planned at this time. She continues to be followed by Dr. Finta, Pediatric Cardiologist at Marshfield Clinic on staff at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children's and many other excellent health care providers.
Jasen Kracht of Marshfield was born weighing 1 lb. and 7 oz. He had a cranial hemorrhage into his brain and interstitial emphysema. He had a collapsed lung, bleeding in his lungs, and needed a high-frequency ventilator. After three months, the ventilator was removed, and Jasen eventually went home weighing 4 lbs. and 9 oz.
Jasen is now an active student at Washington Elementary School. He continues to be involved in sports, including soccer, basketball and baseball. He earned his blue belt in Tae Kwon Do and participated in a team sparring tournament. Once a shy boy, he now cannot wait for recess with his friends to play "ball tag".
Jasen no longer wears bilateral below-the-knee leg braces. Instead, he uses shoe inserts to help with flat footedness. He may require the braces again, especially during a growth spurt. Jasen's biggest change since last year is the addition of eyeglasses. Initially, he was very hesitant to wear them. Now, it's the first thing he puts on in the morning.
Jasmine Lobay made her grand entrance to life at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital weighing a mere one pound 3.5 ounces and was 11¾ inches long. She was delivered by c-section eleven weeks before her scheduled due date. Jasmine was immediately admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Her family lived in Houghton, Michigan at the time of Dawn’s pregnancy, but already aware of the complications they were referred to Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. The Ronald McDonald House became their home away from home. Three months later, little Jasmine was finally released from the NICU. Her family took her home to Houghton and began to settle into a somewhat normal routine; as normal a routine can be when your precious new baby is on oxygen and attached to a monitor.
The following March, Jasmine and her family made a return trip to Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital because her underdeveloped lungs were causing her heart to work harder. Due to the stress on her heart, her liver enlarged and she was hospitalized in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). After more than a week, Jasmine and her family returned home to Houghton.
She was on a pulse oximeter to monitor the oxygen levels in her blood and was doing well for four months. Then they started getting unusual readings. They took Jasmine to her local pediatrician and learned she was quite sick. Jasmine was airlifted back to Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and admitted to the PICU. This turned into a four month stay in the Hospital.
Jasmine had pneumonia and pulmonary hypertension and was placed on a ventilator to assist with her breathing. Four days later she had a tracheotomy and a G/J tube placed because she was not eating. Her parents decided they needed to relocate to Marshfield to properly attend to Jasmine’s ongoing medical needs. She was released from the PICU three days before Christmas. In the months that followed, Jasmine began to stabilize at home eliminating her need for medications, supplemental oxygen and eventually the ventilator.
Now, Jasmine can already claim an incredible life journey of miracles. Her developmental progress has been outstanding largely due to the loving, supportive attention given by her parents, Dawn Lobay and Donald Medeiros. “We are grateful for the exemplary care provided by the staff at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and the kindness of the staff at the Ronald McDonald House. There are still ongoing medical needs and obstacles to overcome, but Jasmine is truly an example of medical miracles,” says Dawn. Just give this little one a high five and you’ll see exactly what they mean in her sparkling eyes.
As told by his mother:
"Jonny was due January 1, 2006, and he was my first pregnancy. After six rough months, Jonny was born September 30, 2005--about 14 weeks early. He weighed only 1 lb., 9.6 oz., and was 11 3/4 inches long. He was tiny; my tiny baby that needed to make it. I didn’t even know babies could be born that small and make it. They gave us a ten percent chance he would make it through the night. I know you think -- ten percent, what a small number -- but that small number meant my son had a chance to LIVE!
We spent three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. We watched Jonny learn to breathe, eat, and grow. There were many ups and downs. Nothing hits you harder than watching your child struggle to take in his next breath, but that’s where the NICU staff comes in. Not only do they take great care of your baby, they take great care of you as well. At the NICU, the staff understands sometimes more than you do how much your mental health can affect your child’s ability to improve. They were great! In the NICU, we learned many things that are different with a preemie infant as compared to a full-term infant. Changing diapers, feeding, bathing … all of these things require a bit more attention when working with a baby that is so small.
Jonny fought through many problems during his stay at the NICU. When he was two weeks old, we were told Jonny had a grade three bleed in his brain and that he could be mentally challenged his entire life. Thank goodness our prayers were answered; Jonny’s body absorbed the blood before it could cause any problems. Jonny took his first breath on his own on November 11, 2005. This will be forever known as “big boy day” in our house. There is no better feeling than to see your baby breathe on his own!
Jonny came home on December 30, 2005, on oxygen and monitors. This was an adventure nobody was ready for. On one hand, you are excited to bring your bundle of joy home, and on the other hand, you’re too scared to even move. The NICU does a great job of getting you ready to take care of your own baby. Jonny was a normal baby that liked to eat, sleep and cry occasionally. We didn’t realize anything was different until Jonny stopped growing at about 9 months. Yes, I said he STOPPED growing. We found out that Jonny’s body doesn’t create a growth hormone to make his body grow. His body needs some help in that area so we give him an injection every night before bed to help him.
Now age four, Jonny is about 20 pounds and 36 inches. He is catching up quicker than we ever imagined he would. He can count to 16 and knows his ABCs by heart. Jonny started pre-school this year and I couldn’t thank Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s NICU enough for our gift of life."
Katie and Emily
In 1990, Katie Gojmerac of Rib Lake was born early and spent the first few months of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Three years later, her sister Emily was born with the same complications. As infants, both suffered from respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and other problems.
Katie now aims to work in the law enforcement field and eventually become a detective. She enjoys reading, watching movies and hanging out with her friends.
Although Emily developed Stage III kidney cancer at the age of five, she did well through her treatments and now is a very healthy young lady. She loves to sew and create her own clothing designs.
In 1989, Lesley Spychalla of Rothschild was one of three children featured during the first Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. She was born on February 26, 1987, approximately four months early. She weighed 1 lb, 8 oz. at birth, dropping to 1 lb 5 oz. before the battle for her growth outside the womb began. She spent 3 ½ months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Low muscle tone in her legs held her back just a bit for her first two years.
Today, Lesley is doing great. In June 2005 she graduated from DC Everest Senior High where she competed in cross country and track, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She recently graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she majored in English with a minor in Spanish. Lesley is the daughter of Lance and Celeste Spychalla of Rothschild.
As told by his mother:
"Lucas Nathan Riley Brown was born at 12:05 a.m. on August 1, 1998, to me Lori Wasserburger, MD, his mother, and his father, Lynus Brown Jr., MD. He was 13 inches long and weighed 1 lb., 12 oz. at the cusp of 23 and 24 weeks gestation. I had gone into premature labor while on vacation with Lynus and our family in Minocqua. Lucas announced his presence by sticking his foot out! Lucas and I were ambulanced to Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Fortunately, the delivery was stalled and we prayed every day to have Lucas make it to 24 weeks. He held us to that and was able to be delivered with intact membranes.
Lucas gave us all a wild ride during the first two months of his NICU stay. Like all “24 weekers,” he was intubated. He developed a septic infection despite the initial antibiotics he was on. I was able to “Kangaroo Care” Lucas a little shy of one month in the NICU. We were getting to the point that he was to be weaned from the ventilator, when he developed an almost deadly Pseudomonas pneumonia. Dr. Jody Gross got him on Vancomycin and a high frequency ventilator and he pulled through that. From all of the antibiotics, he developed a systemic yeast infection that had to be treated with Amphotericin. Because both of us were doctors, we were hyper-aware of all of the potential negative outcomes of the prematurity, the infections, the drugs used to treat them, etc.
After the worst of that was behind us, Lucas could finally concentrate on growing. He had a very poor suck, so he had to have gavage feedings after he tired out from the few cc’s he could take by bottle. He had Retinopathy of Prematurity, so he had to have 2 laser surgeries on one eye and 1 on the other. He also had bilateral inguinal hernias that had to be repaired. Seeing him back on the ventilator again for each of those surgeries was so very hard. Besides our great doctors, the nurses of the NICU were with us every step of the way and helped our whole family meet every challenge. They were our angels on earth! We are from Texas, so I stayed behind and spent 14 - 18 hours a day with him. The nurses were very patient in letting me just be with Lucas. His Dad would fly back and forth from Texas every other weekend and his Grandma would come with the others. The staff of the NICU and the Ronald McDonald house knew of our unique situation, so they bent over backwards to make us feel at home.
We were able to take Lucas home in the first week in November, 3 weeks before his due date. He weighed 4 pounds, 6 ounces at that time. We roomed in for a couple of days to make certain that we could handle his feedings (we had put NG tubes in adults before, so they taught us how to do it for Lucas), his apnea monitor and oxygen if we needed it. The staff of the NICU threw us a going-away party. We drove back to Texas, with Lucas and his gear, just as the first snow of the year fell. It was bittersweet to leave. Because of the incredible care we received, we had a beautiful boy to take home. We didn’t know what the future would hold for him developmentally, but he was our gift from God.Lucas’ primary and secondary nurses became his “Nursie Aunties” and became our family’s friends. Thank you forever to the awesome Ellen, Sandi, Joan, Penny and Mary. Until last summer, we visited the NICU every summer to see Lucas’ Nursie Aunties. We stay in touch with cards and letters.
While Lucas has had some visual and learning challenges due to his prematurity, he is gifted beyond his years in other perceptual realms. He loves nature and all of the animal kingdom, all forms of science, loves individual sports like track and Kung Fu. He likes to bike and kayak. He is artistic, kind and loving. He is Lucas Nathan Riley Brown."
Melanie was born October 19, 1998, by emergency c-section after a short and difficult pregnancy. She weighed 2 lbs., 7.2 oz., and was 14 ½ inches long. Her lungs and intestines were not fully developed. She was on a ventilator and had to have surgery to fix her intestines. Her family did not think she would make it, but she was a fighter and proved them wrong.
Today, she is a happy, healthy young girl. Melanie is very bright and excels in school. You would never guess that she was born so tiny.
Nykya was born at 30 weeks gestation on May 8, weighing 3 lbs., 9 oz. and measuring 16 inches long. She was a very sick little girl for the first week of her life, needing help breathing and was very jaundiced. Nykya was diagnosed with an intraventricular hemorrhage. However after being in the NICU for 6 weeks, she came home on June 21.
Today, Nykya uses a wheelchair to get around, but beyond that she is a happy, healthy girl who loves to play with her brother and sister and her friends.
Ullotta was born at 28 weeks gestation. On Jan. 5, 2000, she weighed 2 lbs., 6 oz., and was 14 inches long. Her due date was April 4, 2000. When she was born, she needed help breathing with the ventilator. Ullotta was in the hospital for 7 weeks. She came home on Feb. 17, 2000, when she was only 4 lbs.
Today, she is a happy, healthy little girl who loves arts and crafts and playing outside with her friends.