Kadlec NICU celebrates births that beat the odds

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 13, 2013 

RICHLAND -- Four-year-old Addison Glover had more cupcakes Saturday than any kid should probably eat in the space of just a few hours.

He kept finding new adults to wheedle at a party at the Richland Community Center -- even though his mother, Tina Glover, told him no. No one could seem to refuse the slender tot with golden curls and the cherubic smile.

Tina took it in stride and laughed as Addison dug into what she estimated was his fifth cupcake of the afternoon. After all, the party was a celebration that her son was in her life at all.

Addison is one of the around 8,000 infants who started their lives at the Kadlec Regional Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit since it opened in 1982.

The hospital invited NICU families and their children to a reunion party at the community center on Saturday to celebrate the thousands of children -- like Addison -- who might not have lived had it not been for the intervention of NICU doctors and nurses.

Addison and his twin sister, Avary, were born at 29 weeks of gestation when a blood vessel tore and threatened Addison's life.

Tina had a condition known as vasa previa, in which fetal blood vessels inside the mother's womb cross the entrance of the birth canal underneath the baby.

It's a rarely reported condition that has a high fetal mortality rate because of how quickly infants can lose life-giving blood when a blood vessel ruptures.

The condition can be detected with a transvaginal ultrasound -- if a doctor is looking for it -- and if detected, the survival rate for the infant is as great as 95 percent. If not, the possibility of death is just as high, according to the International Vasa Previa Foundation.

"Screening is very important," said Tina, who works as a nurse in Kadlec's NICU as well as being mother to two NICU children.

She learned that she had the condition when she was 25 weeks pregnant. Her doctor just happened to notice it during an ultrasound of her twins, she said.

"Dr. (Kenton) Sizemore found it -- he's our hero," she said.

Tina, her husband Trent and Sizemore made plans for the twins to be delivered by Cesarean section at about 35 or 36 weeks of gestation -- just a few weeks shy of a full term.

But time wasn't on the side of mother and infants, and one day in her 29th week of pregnancy, Tina felt a sensation like her water breaking and she knew the blood vessel had broken.

"I knew it was my 3-pound baby bleeding," she said.

Tina and Trent made arrangements for the care of their older son and left for the hospital. They called on the way to tell the hospital to get an operating room ready.

"I walked in in my dirty, bare feet and got myself on the table," Tina said. "They had my babies out within eight minutes."

It was the quick work -- and thinking -- by Kadlec's doctors and nurses that saved Addison from bleeding to death. The doctor who delivered Addison and Avary used blood from the umbilical cord to keep Addison alive.

The babies were taken to the NICU, where they spent 44 days, and Tina became one of the mothers she'd comforted and cared for as a nurse.

Four years later, Addison and Avary are doing well, and Tina is thankful each day that Addison made it.

Sometimes it's the mothers who are saved -- mothers like Megan Ireland of La Grande, who gave birth seven months ago to twin girls Ruby and Rita.

Megan had pre-eclampsia, a life-threatening condition characterized by a rapid rise in blood pressure, and some additional complications.

She had gone to a hospital in Walla Walla, which transferred her to Kadlec so her children could be delivered by Cesarean section.

"It was Father's Day," her husband, Javan Ireland, told the Herald.

Megan was 32 weeks pregnant and her babies' lungs still weren't fully developed. Ruby was 3 pounds 10 ounces and Rita was 4 pounds 5 ounces at birth.

"There was more of a concern for her safety," Javan said of his wife, whose organs were starting to shut down before the delivery.

The couple credit the Kadlec doctors with saving Megan and making sure their daughters got a good, healthy start during their 12 days in the NICU.

"We were really blessed ... (the twins) hadn't been affected by the condition at all," Javan said.

They made the drive from La Grande to Richland on Saturday to say "thank you" and to show their support for a planned expansion of Kadlec's NICU, including rooms where parents would be able to stay with their infants.

"What they're going to do with the NICU will be great," Javan said.

Larry Christensen, executive director of the Kadlec Foundation, said the hospital has raised about $5.8 million toward the $10 million project, and hopes to start construction on the expansion within five or six months.

"The urgency for us is our volumes continue to grow in the NICU," Christensen said. "The needs are not going away in our region."

Information about the expansion and how to donate is online at www.kadlec.org.

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