Matt and Patrick were overwhelmed with joy when they found out they might be able to adopt a second child. They were not given much time to prepare, as the baby’s mother decided very late in her pregnancy that adoption was the path she wanted to take. Yet, Matt and Patrick were not going to let a late adoption stop them. “Of course, the answer to adopting William was ‘yes’,” said Matt.
Just three days after William was born, Matt and Patrick were able to bring him home. After three weeks of settling into their new lifestyle with a newborn, William started vomiting his formula after being fed. As experienced parents with a two-year-old, as well, Patrick said, “We didn’t give it much thought. He’s a baby. He spits up.” However, the vomiting got progressively worse and become more frequent. Matt panicked and his initial thoughts were, “He wasn’t keeping any food down at all. Was he eating anything?”
They took him to see his pediatrician who sent them to the emergency room at Lurie Children’s. “There’s a misconception of the ER. In the ER, there was an element of ease since it is quick and speedy,” said Matt. “I don’t think I was nervous because of the level of service and comfort we felt from the moment we walked in the door.”
Pediatric surgeon Erin Rowell, MD, happened to be on call the day William arrived. She ordered an ultrasound and also checked his electrolytes. William met all the criteria to be diagnosed with Hypertrophic Pyloric Stenosis, otherwise known as HPS.
HPS is a condition that occurs when the muscles between the stomach and the intestines begin to swell, thus narrowing the opening from the stomach to the intestines. This makes it difficult for food to be digested. The stomach begins to fill with contents, causing an infant to vomit. Extreme dehydration and loss of nutrients take a toll on the infant, just as it was on William.
Dr. Rowell knew that a surgical operation called a pyloromyotomy would be needed. In this procedure, the muscles causing the blockage from the stomach to the intestines are loosened and divided. At Lurie Children’s, HPS can be fixed laparoscopically through pen-tip-sized incisions, tiny instruments, and a camera, instead of an open surgery. “At Lurie Children’s, the laparoscopic approach is the standard of care, but many hospitals do not have that capability due to lack of technical expertise and equipment,” said Dr. Rowell.
Thanks to Dr. Rowell, William’s surgery went smoothly. After only 30 hours at Lurie Children’s, Matt and Patrick were able to bring their baby boy home once again. The only long-term effects for William are two tiny scars. However, Matt and Patrick are not worried about that. “Dr. Rowell gave us instructions on how to prevent further scarring,” said Patrick.
William is now four months old and does not have to return to Lurie Children’s for any more follow-ups with Dr. Rowell. Not only is he feeling great, but he is looking healthier. “When my mom first saw him before the surgery, she said ‘That is a sick kid. He looks green and weak’,” said Matt. “There is an unbelievable difference from then and now. It’s like night and day.”
“Now, William is growing the way he should be,” said Matt. When William was first brought in to see Dr. Rowell at three weeks old, he only weighed 7 pounds and 11 ounces. “His weight skyrocketed at 5 weeks old. He was up to almost 9 pounds, which was amazing,” said Dr. Rowell.
Baby William’s weight gain was not the only amazing thing about this journey. “Our experience at Lurie Children’s was absolutely amazing. Everybody would constantly check in on us or give us privacy if we wanted. Knowing we were exhausted, nurses would never wake us if William needed to eat. They would feed him and let us sleep,” said Matt. “I can’t say enough good things. You can tell Dr. Rowell is great with kids. She took as much time as we needed to answer all of our questions,” added Patrick.
This feeling was mutual for Dr. Rowell and the staff at Lurie Children’s. “We really tried to embrace their family and make them feel comfortable,” said Dr. Rowell. “Matt and Patrick are just wonderful parents.”