She was diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus, a condition where the aorta and pulmonary arteries fail to properly close after birth, compromising proper blood flow and heart function. She was also diagnosed with tethered cords in her spine, a level-one brain bleed and ventricular septal defect (a small hole in the heart).
While hospitalized at 9 months of age, Elea’s condition improved slightly but then worsened. Frank recalled visiting one day to see Elea’s belly slightly distended. By the next day ...
“She looked pregnant,” Frank said.
Doctors determined she needed surgery, after which came that grim moment when they gave the family two options: give her intravenous nutrition and hope she makes it two years, or let her go.
“We didn’t want to see her suffer,” Frank said.
The problem was her small intestines. She was suffering from a condition known as necrotizing entercolitis, which essentially means parts of her intestines were dying. And when doctors initially discovered it, they determined it was already too late. Thus the poor prospects for survival.
But a doctor figured there was enough intestine left to give the girl 24 hours and see what happened.
And so the family spent what they thought was their last night with Elea. There was no sleep. There was only prayer. And hope.
Somewhere along the line, a doctor or nurse — Frank doesn’t know who at this point — massaged some of Elea’s intestines back to health.
And by the next morning, doctors made that discovery during a nearly three-hour procedure in which they found 38 centimeters of small intestine had come back to life in her abdomen.
Afterward, Frank said, doctors were in tears. Nurses left the hospital crying. Frank has no doubt that a miracle happened that day.
She’d survived, but she wasn’t out of the woods yet. Her necrotizing entercolitis resulted in short bowel syndrome, and her recovery, Frank knew, would be a long one.