According to her parents and the doctors, the child has displayed immense strength throughout the medical procedure and has 'proved people wrong all along.'
After a six-month stay in a San Diego hospital, Charlotte, an 8-month-old California girl, defied the odds to reunite with her twin and return home with her family. Nearly a month after she was born, Charlotte began experiencing breathing problems and also had a respiratory infection for which she was admitted to Rady Children's Hospital in January. Charlotte and her twin sister, Olivia, were born in December to Karla and Joshua Valliere.
Both the twins were in good health though Charlotte was born with only one lung. She did not have any issues because of her condition until January 29. So initially the parents didn't know what was wrong with their child. "It was six weeks at home — total bliss. Everything was great... and all of a sudden she started having breathing problems," Karla Valliere told Good Morning America. Describing the child's initial days at the hospital, she recalled, "Her one lung grew like 1.5 sizes, so it was compensating for the lack of the second one. So doctors ran all the studies. She was totally fine -- oxygenation, everything 100%, so we were cleared to go after four days in the hospital. "
On January 29, when the Vallieres brought their daughter to Rady Children's Hospital, she was diagnosed with tracheal stenosis and tracheal rings which means that she had an airway birth defect in which the rings in her trachea were irregular, with an abnormal narrowing of the trachea, or the windpipe. A blood vessel was also wrapped around her trachea. She was hospitalized and put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO).
Explaining the complexities of the child's condition, Dr. Matthew Brigger, chief of the pediatric otolaryngology division at Rady Children's Hospital, said that Charlotte's condition was "fairly rare." He further added, "We knew that she had a critical airway that if anything were to progress, trying to keep her intubated, that was gonna potentially injure the airway and give us more difficulty in repairing it. So the ECMO was sort of a bridge to surgery."
Since Charlotte and her twin had been delivered a few weeks prematurely, Brigger and the other doctors had to wait until Charlotte was big enough to undergo the major surgery. "Initially I [told the parents], 'Well, if we can get through surgery, I'm gonna give her 50-50," Brigger said. "[But] I'm thinking more 20% of getting through surgery at the time, just knowing how much that we had to go through."
Despite the low chance of survival, Charlotte's surgery was a success. "Fortunately, Charlotte's a fighter and we got to do the surgery. She sailed through surgery," he said.
The Vallieres claimed that they drew strength from their own daughter throughout her complications, numerous surgeries, and treatment, as well as the months-long hospitalization and all its ups and downs.
"The thing that I think that I believe got us through was her. She never gave any sign of weakness," the mom of two said. Charlotte was eventually discharged from the hospital on August 1 after 185 days, and her family was there to celebrate and take her home. Brigger said that he does not believe Charlotte will require a second lung and that her future is promising. "Prognosis is very good. She may not be running marathons in the future but she is Charlotte so it's hard to say. She's proved people wrong all along. I expect her to be able to live a good life," he said.