When Lucia Angell was 16 weeks pregnant, doctors gave her bad news during a routine ultrasound. Her baby's intestines had pushed out through a small hole in the abdominal wall and were now outside the body.
This rare condition known as gastroschisis occurs in roughly one in 5,000 births. For unknown reasons, the fetal abdominal wall fails to close properly, leaving a small hole next to the bellybutton. Intestines and other internal organs can then make their way through this opening. Often, babies with gastroschisis are stillborn.
In this ultrasound, you can see a mass of intestines resting on a baby's stomach. Lucia and her partner, Daniel, were petrified. They weren't sure if their daughter would survive until birth.
Doctors prepared them for the worst. The horrible effect of gastroschisis looks something like the illustration below.
The moment that baby Erin arrived, doctors wrapped her exposed intestines in cling wrap to keep them warm and rushed her into emergency surgery.
For five long days, the new parents were not allowed to touch their baby. She'd already stop breathing once. The slightest germ could easily kill her.
However, the baby girl's progress continued to delight her parents and doctors. She even beat sepsis!
Finally, after nearly three months in the hospital, Erin came home. Lucia told Daily Mail, "That day we got to take her home was incredible. We didn't tell any of our family and just turned up with Erin. Everyone was so happy and relieved."
However, Erin's not quite out of the woods yet. Doctors had to remove 15 centimeters of dead intestine, which could lead to stomach problems later in life. As her mom says "It's a small price to pay to have her with us."
Many other parents have shared their trials and triumphs with gastroschisis on Twitter. Just look at how far this little guy has come!
This baby is clearly a fighter. At only two months old, she's already gone through so much to survive.
Me and my lil ms. Serenity now 2 months old. It's been quite rough as my lil sweetheart was born 1month premature and with gastroschisis pic.twitter.com/KpuKPYDd8E— Annette Chavez (@chavezmami520) October 15, 2016
But it gets better! This little lady is five years old, and proud to show off her gastroschisis scar. After all, it's from the surgery that saved her life.