At the ripe, old age of 16 months Michael Gillespie has been through more medical procedures, treatments and trauma than most adults. HERE'S HIS STORY>
Michael was born 10 weeks early with a serious birth defect called an omphalocele (link to our health library about this condition). In this condition, which occurs in about 1 in 10,000 births, several organs fail to move inside the belly during development. Instead, they herniated through a hole in the abdominal wall where the umbilical cord would normally be located and remained outside the belly covered by a thin membrane. Michael was born with a giant omphalocele. In his case, his intestines, liver, spleen and stomach were contained in a sac outside his body.
Parents Keri and Greg of Plainfield had many wrenching moments during Michael's first 10 months, which he spent in Edward's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Like many babies born with an omphalocele, Michael also had breathing and feeding challenges. In addition to these challenges, Michael also experienced pulmonary hypertension due to his premature and underdeveloped lungs, as well as several surgeries, months on life support and even a few close calls.
Michael's neonatologist, Rajeev Dixit, MD, says, "Michael made full use of being born in a hospital with a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We're prepared to address any situation that comes up with babies born early or with congenital conditions. We have a neonatologist present 24/7 and many pediatric subspecialists available for consultation."
In Michael's case, the neonatologist was joined by subspecialists in pediatric surgery, pulmonology, cardiology and nephrology.
The neonatal nursing staff was key to Michael's care and preparation of his parents for his homecoming. Treatment of a giant omphalocele, like Michael's, can be prolonged because the tiny body may not be ready to accommodate all of the organs. In this case, the surgeon and neonatologist directed the nurses to use the "paint and wait" approach, in which silvadine cream is painted on the sac, promoting skin growth over the thin membrane.
An elastic bandage placed over the sac gradually pushes the organs into the body. In Michael's case, however, the liver is still outside the belly. A final surgery to correct the omphalocele is scheduled for spring 2010.
In the meantime, Michael was released from the hospital in March 2009. Keri says, "We were glad to be home, but we were overwhelmed. It's a lot of work."
Keri and Greg applied what they learned about dressings, G (gastric)-tube feedings and oxygen use.
Michael is currently receiving therapy and nutritional counseling through the state's Early Intervention Program. Says Keri, "We now have in-home nursing care which has been a big help. Michael's development is moving along well and he is sitting up unassisted. He isn't crawling or walking but we're confident he'll get there. All in all, we're very pleased with his progress."
Since arriving home, Michael's grown from 18 to 24 pounds and is eating two times a day by mouth in addition to his G-tube feedings.
"He's definitely a little fighter, but he's still got some hurdles to jump. With proper nutrition and therapy, though, he'll be O.K.," says Keri.
Keri and Greg also added they're truly thankful to the entire staff at Edward Hospital for the incredible care Michael received during his stay.
"We know Michael wouldn't have made it without ‘God's little helpers,'" says Keri.