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Isabelle's story


view isabelle's video (WTAJ)

Isabelle’s arrival was just on time, but it wasn’t what anyone expected. 

When her fetal heart rate dropped dangerously low, she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and came into the world barely breathing.  Soon after, the seizures started.  Her first hours were full of medications, chest compressions, and frantic efforts to keep her alive – including a Life Flight® trip from Clearfield County to Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville for more advanced treatment.

Isabelle’s parents, Joy and Christian, knew there was a chance she wouldn’t make it.  And if she did, the damage her brain already encountered could be extensive.  Some organs already were shutting down.

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, doctors opted for a new treatment – the Cool-Cap.  The device had just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and was designed for newborns just like Isabelle, who were deprived of oxygen at birth.

“The Cool-Cap essentially slows down metabolism in the brain and allows it to get rid of toxins,” explains Dr. James Cook, director of neonatology at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. “By doing this, Isabelle’s brain had a chance to focus all of its efforts on repairing itself and limit the possibility of long-term problems such as mental retardation, epilepsy and cerebral palsy.”

For three days, Isabelle continued the treatment.

When the cap came off, tests were done to measure her brain activity, but the brain was still too swollen for accurate readings.  Another week went by, and another test was done with more positive and reassuring results.  After a month in the NICU, the swelling was completely gone and all her organ systems were fully functioning.

Now she is 2 years old and more active than anyone ever imagined.

“No one thought she was going to make it out of this when she arrived in Danville that day,” Joy says.  “But she is living proof that miracles do happen.”

Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger provided funds for much of the NICU equipment that Isabelle – and many other children across the region – have benefitted from, including the Cool Cap, infant resuscitators, incubators, monitors, ventilators and medication pumps.

Meet Isabelle: 2010 Miracle Kid

Everything about the pregnancy was normal, but the first hours of Isabelle's life were anything but. Thanks to a unique treatment, she is doing better than anyone anticipated.