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Two-year-old baby finally goes home after spending her entire life in hospital
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Two-year-old baby finally goes home after spending her entire life in hospital

Addy Smith was born in December 2019 and spent 848 days at two different San Diego hospitals fighting a breathing problem.

Image source: YouTube screenshot/KPBS Public Media
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A 2-year-old born in 2019 has finally gone home after spending all her life in the hospital. After her birth on December 10, 2019, at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns in San Diego, Addy Smith was diagnosed with chronic lung disease causing issues with breathing. Her survival was doubtful but she fought through it all and is now home following 848 days of treatment at two different San Diego hospitals, reported Good Morning America. She was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction while still in the womb. IUGR, also known as fetal growth restriction, prevents the unborn baby from growing at a normal rate and can often lead to a low birth weight, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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Aliesha and Chris Smith, Addy's parents, struggled with infertility for seven years, and were even told once that they'd never be able to have children. "We had tried so long. It was never ever on the table, never an option to not see things through with her and not give her a chance," said Chris Smith. "The OB (obstetrician) had told us, she just painted a picture of what it would be like for the next, at least couple years, and the rest of her life and we were really like, 'OK, let's go. Let's saddle up and this is what was meant to be.'"

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When Addy was finally born, she had underdeveloped lungs and was struggling to breathe. She was initially put on a ventilator before being moved to a CPAP machine to help her breathe. She appeared to be stabilizing but one day after three months, she suddenly stopped breathing. "The doctors did not think she was going to make it and we were getting ready to say our goodbyes," recalled Aliesha Smith. Doctors tried to resuscitate her and urged the parents to move their daughter to Rady Children's Hospital to give her the best chance of survival.

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She was moved to the neonatal care unit at Rady in March 2020. To make matters worse, the pandemic had reached America and coronavirus was declared a national emergency. Aliesha and Chris Smith borrowed one of their friend's recreational vehicles so they could stay right outside the hospital. While one stayed by Addy's bedside, the other remained in the RV. "She was so critical, so critical, that we had a friend that let us use their RV. And so we parked on the street and that's where one of us would be when one of us would be up by her room," said Aliesha.

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Dr. Sandeep Khanna, a pediatric intensivist and the medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Rady Children's Hospital, treated Addy. He said the 2-year-old was having a tough time breathing and doctors had to give her heavy amounts of sedation to relax her. The doctors couldn't give any definitive answers as to how long she would need to continue receiving treatment at the hospital. "I was sitting with [Chris] in the room and I said, 'Look, the way things are going, Chris, I don't know when she will go home. I think this might take years. It might take decades, even,'" recalled Khanna. "We are not saying we're quitting but I'm just telling you that you should be prepared for that. And he said, 'Well, she's driving the bus. Keep doing it.' So we did it."

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Addy's parents wanted to get her home and unless she gave signs that she wouldn't make it, they weren't going to give up. "We always knew what the end goal was, which was to get her home. And we always made an agreement, Addy is going to tell us when she's not ready. And if we started questioning that and we would pray about it and say like, 'God, please give me a sign, tell me if it's time to stop or if it's time to keep going,'" said Aleisha.

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Physical therapy was helping improve her muscle strength, which helped improve the condition of her lungs. While Addy was still making progress, Aleisha become pregnant again and they had a healthy baby boy named Aiden. Addy was soon doing much better and the doctors gave them the green light to go home. Addy joined her parents and her younger brother on April 5, 2022. She still needs to use a ventilator at home but they're confident of her progress. "It's been miracle after miracle with her," said Chris. "We're both so excited to see where she goes and what she can do. And I know she's always going to continue to blow us away and surprise us." The family is hoping Addy's journey inspires others who might be experiencing something similar.

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