Athena was born with a critical condition called Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). This is characterized by a hole in the diaphragm and organs going up into the chest cavity affecting lung development and growth. She spent the first 28 days of her life in the Intensive Care Unit
Athena was struggling to breathe and was immediately put on a ventilator. Due to pulmonary hypertension, her tiny heart pumped hard but was not able to get the oxygen her body needed. On the third day of her life, her oxygen saturation levels decreased to only 60% and a decision was made to airlift her to Cardinal Glennon Hospital.
There Athena had surgery placing tubes (cannulas) in her neck hooked to an Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation(ECMO) machine that bypassed both her heart and lungs. The machine did the life support work for her by transferring her blood to a machine where it was filtered and then returned to her body full of the needed oxygen while allowing her heart and lungs to rest and heal.
For 5 days, Athena received blood components from Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center (MVRBC) donors. Cardinal Glennon Hospital is one of the area hospitals getting its sole supply of blood products from MVRBC. She received both platelets and plasma. Her dad, Drew, has been a frequent platelet donor, even before platelets were used to help save his daughter's life. Her grandpa, Tony, is a Donor Relations Consultant for MVRBC.
By transfusing blood products through the ECMO device, Athena's tiny body began to get stronger. Her heart rate was brought down to a normal range and her oxygen level was brought up. When her vitals were stabilized, Athena had a successful surgery to repair the hole in her diaphragm, and push her bowels, liver, and kidney out of the lung cavity.
Day by day Athena was able to heal. Her prognosis was uncertain at first, but through the skilled and caring hands of the medical staff combined with blood products received, Athena survived a critical medical situation.
She is now at home with her loving parents, and well on her way to a normal happy childhood.Without the blood products voluntarily given by blood donors, Athena would not be with us today.