Every day at St. Louis Children's Hospital, some of the littlest people put up the toughest fight.
Nora Lammert has been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit(NICU) since she was born prematurely at 28 weeks and three days, which can cause myriad problems.
"There are not only problems with breathing," says Neonatologist Dr. Barb Warner. "But there are problems with feedings, there can be problems with the brain, there are problems with the eyes."
There were also problems for Nora's mom.
NewsChannel 5 anchor Anne Allred delivered Nora three months early by emergency cesarean section.
"When I saw that baby it was terrifying," Anne told us. "She was a pound and 15 ounces and she didn't even look like a baby."
Also terrifying was the reason for the C-section. Anne had severe pre-eclampsia which causes a red blood cell breakdown plus impaired liver and kidney function.
"So that obstetrician was really balancing the baby's life and my life, "Anne said.
And days later, things went from bad to worse.
"My doctors office called and said get to the emergency room right away, " Anne recalled.
A blood test revealed that Anne was in end stage renal failure. Because of the pregnancy, she was diagnosed with a rare condition called Atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or AHUS which causes blood clots in her blood vessels.
"As the husband you just want to be able to affect it somehow," said Anne's husband Drew Lammert. "You want to take the issues away. I mean, you feel horrible."
As their daughter fought for her life, Anne was in her own battle. A battle she is determined to win.
"I have to be there for my daughter," Anne said through tears. "I think Nora is giving me the strength I need to just get through it everyday."
Getting out of the hospital didn't mean getting away from it.
Once a week, Anne has to go to the cancer center at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur for infusions of a life saving drug called Soliris.
"The infusions are supposed to help get rid of all the blood clots and break them down in my body," she said.
She is also undergoing dialysis.
Ironically, one of Anne's last stories before Nora was born, was done in the NICU at Children's Hospital and it was the viewers reaction to Anne's story on her Facebook page that filled both her and her husband with hope.
"People were sending me all these pictures of their children who were NICU babies who are thriving now. And my husband and I would sit in bed and read these stories," she told us.
"It meant everything. It really did," added Drew. "Just knowing that there were others out there and so many and it helped, I guess made me feel like I was in good company."
When it comes to Nora, it's clearly not the size of the girl in the fight, but the size of the fight in the girl. In 11 weeks, she has gone from 1 pound 15 ounces to 5 pounds 3 ounces.
"We have been blessed, she has had an uncomplicated stay," said Anne.
If all continues to go well, Nora will be coming home from the hospital in a week to ten days.
"Even though she was born very early, the majority of babies because of both the pre-natal treatments, the post -natal treatments and then the home environment have a very good chance of doing well," Dr. Warner says.
There are still miles to go on Anne's road to recovery but if all continues to go well, she hopes to be back at work in the not too distant future. When she does return, she'll be a changed reporter.
"The level of empathy," she said, "for people going through health issues is forever changed."
There is one script Anne Allred can't wait to write. How a rough beginning turned into a happy ending.
News Channel Five’s Anne Allred has recently battled with some health issues that you may not have heard of before. Below, are descriptions of these conditions and also support groups and organizations that can help patients.
Preeclampsia is a complication of pregnancy that occurs in a ranges of 2% to 10% of all pregnancies in the U.S., depending upon previous health history, age, etc. Symptoms include high blood pressure and damage to other organs,usually the kidneys. Other symptoms and signs are:
- Decreased urine
- Upper abdominal pain
- Temporary loss or blurred vision including a sensitivity to light
- Extreme headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Problems with the liver
- A decrease in blood platelets
Women with normal pregnancies and blood pressure can suffer from its effects sometime after the 20 week period of gestation. If preeclampsia is untreated it create other serious complications. Delivery can remedy the condition but often the diagnosis can come too early in the pregnancy.
The cause of preeclampsia is not known. One theory is that problems with the development of the placenta are the origin of later conditions. It has been noted that women suffering from the condition have placentas with narrower blood vessels than normal which besides limiting the amount of blood flow affect their bodies hormones. This then can lead to not enough blood conveyed to the uterus, blood vessel damage, and immune system problems.
Although preeclampsia occurs only during some pregnancies,
factors that also increase your risk for it include-
- New pregnancy
- Pregnancy with a new partner
- Pregnancy involving twins or other multiples
- Having babies more than 10 years apart or less tha two years apart
- Pre-pregnancy current conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, lupus
- Age (over 40)
The effects of preeclampsia can include reduced blood flow and oxygen to the baby, leading to a preterm birth and a low birth weight. It can also lead to the placenta separating from the uterine wall before delivery and possibly threatening your own life and the life of your child. It is also known to possibly lead to seizures and cardiovascular disease.
Support Groups and Useful Organizations
ATYPICAL HEMOLYTIC UREMIC SYNDROME (AHUS)
It is a rare condition that affects less than 200,000 people in the U.S. according to the National Institutes of Health. It primarily affects kidney function and causes abnormal blood clots in the kidneys. Primary symptoms are anemia (hemolytic), Thrombocytopenia (a low blood platelet count), and kidney failure. Other symptoms for AHUS include:
- High blood pressure
- Protein in the urine
AHUS is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. When what’s known as the CFH gene develops mutations, it greatly increases a person’s risk for the condition. Other factors that increase the risk of AHUS include pregnancy, chronic disease, organ transplantation and anti-cancer drugs.People with AHUS often have kidney damage and acute kidney failure that can lead to end-stage renal disease. As a result, the kidneys stop filtering fluids and waste products from the body effectively.
Support Groups and Useful Organizations
4. Rare Connect