Despite being born with only one lung, had had no problems after birth. Both Olivia and Charlotte were in good health, until January 29.
After a six-month stay in a San Diego hospital, Charlotte, an 8-month-old California girl, defied the odds to reunite with her twin and return home with her family.
Charlotte and her twin sister, Olivia, were born in December to Karla and Joshua Valliere, but Charlotte was admitted to Rady Children's Hospital in January with respiratory issues and an infection.
The Vallieres initially had no idea what happened to her. Despite being born with only one lung, had had no problems after birth. Both Olivia and Charlotte were in good health, until January 29.
"Her one lung grew like 1.5 sizes, so it was compensating for the lack of the second one. So doctors ran all the studies. She was totally fine -- oxygenation, everything 100%, so we were cleared to go after four days in the hospital," Karla Valliere told Good Morning America. "It was six weeks at home — total bliss. Everything was great... and all of a sudden she started having breathing problems."
On January 29, the Vallieres brought their daughter to Rady Children's Hospital, where she was hospitalised and put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO. Dr. Matthew Brigger, chief of the paediatric otolaryngology division at Rady Children's Hospital, began seeing Charlotte at the age of six weeks. Charlotte was finally diagnosed with tracheal stenosis and tracheal rings. This implied she had an airway birth defect in which the rings in her trachea were irregular, with an abnormal narrowing of the trachea, or windpipe. A blood vessel was also wrapped around her trachea.
Baby girl born with one lung and given 20% chance of survival goes home. https://t.co/sUDdKjAthV pic.twitter.com/BUPSFHkQEC— ABC News (@ABC) August 19, 2022
"This set of anomalies, with the single lung, with the way the aorta was wrapped around the trachea itself and the trachea being this narrow, is actually fairly rare," Brigger told Good Morning America. "We knew that she had a critical airway that if anything were to progress, trying to keep her intubated, that was gonna potentially injure the airway and give us more difficulty in repairing it. So the ECMO was sort of a bridge to surgery," he continued.
Since Charlotte and her twin had been delivered a few weeks premature, she was still small for her age. Brigger and Charlotte's other doctors had to wait until Charlotte was big enough to undergo the major surgery. "Initially I [told the parents], 'Well, if we can get through surgery, I'm gonna give her 50-50," Brigger said. "[But] I'm thinking more 20% of getting through surgery at the time, just knowing how much that we had to go through."
Baby Girl Born With One Lung & Slim Chance of Survival Finally Goes Home https://t.co/aOSt58UZVt— CafeMom (@cafemom) August 18, 2022
Despite the low chance of survival, Charlotte's surgery was a success. "Fortunately, Charlotte's a fighter and we got to do the surgery. She sailed through surgery," he said. The Vallieres claimed that they drew strength from their own daughter throughout her complications, numerous surgeries, and treatment, as well as the months-long hospitalization and all its ups and downs.
"The thing that I think that I believe got us through was her. She never gave any sign of weakness," the mom of two said. Charlotte was eventually discharged from the hospital on August 1 after 185 days, and her family was there to celebrate and take her home.
Brigger said that he does not believe Charlotte will require a second lung and that her future is promising. "Prognosis is very good. She may not be running marathons in the future but she is Charlotte so it's hard to say. She's proved people wrong all along. I expect her to be able to live a good life," he said.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Good Morning America