Ashley and Ryan cried when their daughter, Elizabeth, stood by herself for the first time. But this was beyond typical parent pride. For them, every milestone is a reminder of how far their little girl has come.
In September 2008, still more than four months before her due date, Ashley went to her doctor for a routine prenatal check-up. When her doctor discovered she was in labor, she was sent to their local hospital and soon after was in Life Flight® on her way to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.
For more than three weeks, physicians at Geisinger Medical Center were able to delay Elizabeth’s arrival – but on October 12, it was clear that she would not wait any longer. She was born more than 13 weeks early, weighing only 2 pounds and 4 ounces, and was suffering from a number of prematurity complications.
“Elizabeth’s course was a very rough one,” remembers neonatologist Edward Everett, DO. “She had a lot of ups and downs, including a meningitis scare, and it wasn’t until January when she finally seemed to be healthy enough to go home.”
After 84 days in the NICU, Elizabeth had overcome underdeveloped lungs, esophageal reflux, infections, hernia operations and more. She left with an apnea monitor – to keep track of any breathing issues while she slept – as well as medications to help prevent such an episode, and she received some physical therapy. Today, however, she is doing so well that she no longer needs the medications, and tests revealed that she was no longer in need of physical therapy.
“The NICU staff made it so easy to understand,” Ashley says of their time at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. “I’m so grateful that we were sent there. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this without their support.”
Now nearing 2 years old, Elizabeth loves to sing and dance, and enjoys going to the park. After such a rough start, her parents say they hope she now can live life to its fullest.
“As parents, we would love for her to have a great education and career. To grow up healthy and strong both in spirit and mind. To have wonderful friends. All in all, what any parents want for their kids – the best.”
Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger provided funds for much of the NICU equipment that Elizabeth – and many other children across the region – have benefitted from, including infant resuscitators, incubators, monitors, ventilators and medication pumps.