A Nebraska couple got the unexpected and gut-wrenching news that every prospective parent dreads: there’s something wrong with your baby.
Shelly Wright remembers hearing doctors tell her that Baby Genevieve, while still in the womb, wasn’t expected to survive her birth day because she suffered from a rare, life-threatening condition called hydrops fetalis. The condition causes fluid to collect in her organs and tissues. Doctors discovered the problem when Shelly was 31 weeks pregnant and they informed her that she should be prepared to say goodbye to her baby girl.
“We went home and did a lot of crying and praying,” Wright said in an interview with the Omaha World-Herald newspaper.
But no one was done fighting for this little girl.
That week, at her doctor’s recommendation, she flew to Los Angeles, where a neonatal specialist attempted to remove the excess fluid. It wasn’t working. She decided to return home to Nebraska and meet with the NICU team at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
The Omaha hospital sees a half-dozen newborns with hydrops fetalis each year, according to Dr. Ann Anderson-Berry, the medical director of the NICU at the med center.
Genevieve’s case was among the most severe and “incredibly rare,” Anderson-Berry said. There were no case reports that detailed a successful treatment of such an aggressive form of hydrops fetalis to advise the med center team.
Shelly then underwent a C-section in February and physicians placed 14 tubes in Genevieve’s chest to drain the large amounts of fluid. Genevieve was so swollen from all of the excess fluid, she looked like she was about to pop.
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“It was minute to minute,” Anderson-Berry said of the baby’s survival in the interview.
After a month of excessive worrying and constant around-the-clock work to keep Genevieve alive and the fluid draining, doctors eventually injected a special fluid into the affected area that causes a scab to form that prevents additional fluid from forming.
Now 9 months old, Shelly said Genevieve looks and acts like any infant and is doing well.
“I feel like all I do is stare at her,” Wright said. “It’s a miracle.”
“Where there’s life,” she said, “there’s hope.”