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‘Miracle Morgan’ Defies the Odds

December 26th, 2018

The fact that her parents refer to 6-month-old Morgan Yoder as “Miracle Morgan” is telling. But the fact that her doctors use the same nickname reveals even more about the incredible odds that the feisty little girl had to overcome just to survive.

Early in Lindsey Quinn’s otherwise uneventful pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed that her baby may have been developing with a serious abnormality. The baby’s intestines seemed to be outside of her body, a condition known as complicated gastroschisis. Lindsey’s obstetrician, Kiran Trivedi, DO, referred her to the Maternal Fetal Medicine experts at Good Samaritan Hospital for monitoring and management of her high-risk pregnancy.

A few months later, as Lindsey was thinking about the gender reveal party for her baby, doctors told her that they had detected additional problems including blockages in her intestines. They gave Lindsey and her fiancé, Kevin Yoder, the devastating news that their baby might not survive.

Lindsey, already a mom to an 18-year-old and a 10-year-old, and Kevin were determined to do everything they could to save their baby. 

To do that would require the coordinated effort of an entire team of specialists. Fortunately, Good Samaritan has the resources to manage extremely complicated and high-risk pregnancies like Lindsey’s.

Lindsey met with Vinci Jones, MD, FACS, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Good Sam.

“She was understandably very worried when she met with me the first time,” Dr. Jones recalled.

“He was very reassuring,” Lindsey said. “He told me that everything would be OK.”

As it turned out, Morgan had a rare constellation of problems, all of which would require surgery. The gastroschisis wascomplicated by four other abnormalities – two blockages known as intestinal atresia and colonic atresia, a perforation that caused intestinal contents to leak into her abdomen (meconium peritonitis) and an apple-peel deformity of the small bowel. Dr. Jones estimates that these issues occur together only in around one in 25,000 babies.

The most critical issue was the gastroschisis. Often, surgery to repair abnormalities in newborn babies can occur a day or two after birth, to allow neonatologists time to stabilize the baby. But in Morgan’s case, there was a tight band of tissue severely constricting her intestines and threatening to cut off the blood supply. If not repaired immediately upon birth, her intestinal tissue would have been lost, and she would have had to rely on intravenous feeding. Her prognosis in that case would have been grim.

Dr. Jones met with Dr. Trivedi and the neonatologists at Good Samaritan, led by Prabhu Mehta, MD, Chief of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Good Sam. A plan was formulated for Dr. Trivedi to deliver Morgan by a planned Cesarean section while, at the same time, Dr. Jones and his team would be waiting in an adjacent operating room, ready to perform surgery on Morgan just minutes after she drew her first breath.

“Little Morgan had her own agenda,” Lindsey said. Six weeks prior to her scheduled due date, Lindsey was rushed to the hospital on the day after Christmas for an emergency c-section. Fortunately, the team was ready and sprang into action.

“I couldn’t even hold her before she went into surgery,” Lindsey reported. Five-pound, one-ounce Morgan was whisked into the operating room for a delicate, 90-minute procedure.

While operating on a newborn is challenging, pediatric surgeons have the skills to care for even the tiniest babies, Dr. Jones explained.

“There is a small margin for error because everything is so small. We are trained to operate within those margins. We have to handle tissue very gently.”

He noted that Good Sam has a pediatric-trained surgical team, which is essential to ensuring that babies like Morgan are kept stable and safe during a long operation. At Good Sam, that team includes Liborio C. Musacchia, DO, a pediatric anesthesiologist, along with physician’s assistant Marisa Luvera, PA, and surgical nurses Imee Tornillo, RN, and Patricia Rivello, RN.

Lindsey and Kevin finally got to hold Morgan on her second day of life. They spent the next 37 days keeping careful watch over her in Good Sam’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where she was fed only intravenously until she grew strong enough to withstand her second surgery.

“She was so small and so fragile at birth, that she would not have tolerated all of the surgery that she needed on day one,” Dr. Jones explained. “We let her put on weight in the NICU.” When Morgan was five weeks old, Dr. Jones surgically repaired the remaining intestinal abnormalities in a four-and-a-half-hour procedure.

Finally, Morgan was able to begin to be fed by mouth. By the time she left the hospital more than a month later, she was drinking normally.

 “It is hard to put into words everything that we as a family went through,” said Lindsey, who credited Good Sam’s staff with being there, not only for Morgan, but for the entire family. “The doctors and nurses are definitely one of a kind. They were amazing in all respects, in caring for Morgan and even with us in general.”

As she approaches her first birthday, Morgan’s prognosis is excellent, according to Dr. Jones.

“She is doing absolutely great!” he said, adding that he expects her to grow and develop “like a normal kid.”

By all accounts, that’s just what she is doing. Crawling, pulling herself up, and trying to talk, Morgan is proving that sometimes just being a normal kid can truly be a miracle.

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