Thursday, November 26, 2009
7 News Features: Julia's Journey
One South Florida family has a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Their baby daughter is finally home after facing an uphill battle from the moment she was born. Seven's Lynn Martinez has more on Julia's Journey.
WSVN -- In her first seconds of life baby Julia had a fight on her tiny little hands.
Max Chaves: "I can't see the baby. Usually when the baby is born they bring it close to the mother. So it's very strange that moment."
Max and his wife watched helplessly as their baby girl was rushed out of the delivery room.
Max Chaves: "The doctor and all the staff and the nurse they were all in the delivery room. They take the baby very fast, and they go to the NICU area, and they don't tell me nothing in that moment."
In the intensive care unit doctors were desperately trying to save their daughter's life.
Dr. Gary Birken: "The baby was unable to breathe."
Julia had been born with a rare tumor on her cheek and neck.
Dr. Gary Birken: "I would say it was a little bit smaller than a tennis ball."
Because of it she could not breathe, she could not eat.
Max Chaves: "Very afraid because we didn't know what it is. What happened with her, if they can take it out, if it's something forever, you know, you don't know nothing."
The tumor was not malignant, but it had to be removed and doctors at Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital would have to wait at least a month for Julia to grow strong enough for surgery. During that time she faced some potentially fatal side effects.
Dr. Gary Birken: "You can have bleeding into the tumor and that can be life threatening, and if that area should become infected, babies of that age and that size have limited ability to fight infection and that could have been a major problem."
When Julia was finally ready for surgery, Max and his wife were terrified as their tiny little girl was taken into the operating room.
Dr. Gary Birken: "The surgery takes almost eight hours, and eight hours too much on a baby with one month only."
Thankfully, the surgery went well.
Dr. Gary Birken: "We were able to remove about 98 to 99 percent of the tumor."
In the days after the surgery Max would not leave Julia's bedside.
Max Chaves: "When she came to the room I stay with her for almost three days all the time. On the side on the bed. It's very difficult."
And then came the long recovery. Little Julia had to learn what comes naturally to most babies.
Dr. Gary Birken: "Obviously, after an operation like this getting the baby to suck and swallow normally is an incredible challenge."
But late this fall she was able to go home and meet her big sister and brother for the first time.
Max Chaves: "When she sees the brother and the sister she smile all the time."
The family has a nurse come in, and Julia is still on a feeding tube, but she is able to eat on her own more and more every day.
Lynn Martinez: "And normal is what Julia's parents have been praying for from day one. Now they are looking forward to spending the holidays together."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Gary Birken
Joe Dimaggio Children's Hospital
South Florida Pediatric Surgeons
Tel: (954) 981-0072