Following a normal pregnancy, Patrick and Emily Baltus of Westport, Ind., never expected their third child to need focused neurocritical care, a program available in Indiana only at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. Now they say it saved 10-month-old Jaydin’s life.
Jaydin was born at Columbus Regional Hospital on September 17, 2015. She was less than a day old when a physician suspected she was having a seizure and recommended ambulance transport to Riley Hospital.
Although Jaydin’s eyes fluttered, newborns often have no outward signs of seizures, says Mandy Harris, M.D., co-director of the Neuro NICU program at Riley Hospital. That’s why neurotelemetry is so important.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) tracks and records brain wave patterns. Thirty leads attached to Jaydin’s scalp sent signals to a computer monitored from a control room 24/7 by pediatric-trained technicians. Riley’s neurointensivists could review the data in the hospital or remotely.
The EEG revealed that Jaydin’s seizures were continuous. “It took four medicines to get the seizures to stop, and at that point she was in a medically induced coma,” her parents recall. Further tests determined that a blood clot in Jaydin’s brain had caused a serious brain bleed. Spinal fluid also collected in her brain (hydrocephalus), and she had high blood pressure.
On October 7, pediatric neurosurgeon Joel Boaz, M.D., placed a shunt to reduce the swelling in her brain. When Jaydin awoke, her eyes were calm.
Jaydin went home October 20 on a feeding tube and medications. She struggled until late March, when “everything just kind of clicked,” Patrick says. Today she takes a bottle and is seizure-free; she no longer needs an anti-seizure drug, and her blood pressure medicine is gradually being reduced.
Riley is the only hospital in Indiana with 24-hour NICU EEG technology monitored by on-site technicians. To the Riley Children’s Foundation donors whose gifts paid for the equipment that helped diagnose Jaydin, her mother Emily says simply, “Thank you. There are no words.”
Emily, a teaching assistant at South Decatur Elementary School, approached her principal with an idea to give back—a campaign to raise $1 for each of the school’s 470 students. Instead, the students collected $1,577, and Jaydin attended the convocation where students and staff celebrated their new status as a Kids Caring & Sharing “Riley Miracle School.”
Neurologists have told the Baltuses that the extent of damage to Jaydin’s brain won’t be known until she is about 3. “Babies are pretty miraculous in what they can recover from,” Dr. Harris says.
“If there are learning disabilities or whatever along the way, we’ll figure them out,” Patrick says. “Our wish has been granted: that’s she’s come home and she’s loving life.”