Exceptional Care for a Rare Condition: Sadie's Riley Story


February 15, 2016
Topics: Riley Kid Story



sadie blog image
Riley kid Sadie Heshelman

“It isn’t up to me when your baby is born. But when she is, she needs to go to Riley.” Those were the words spoken to us by Riley Pediatric Urologist Dr. Richard Rink on December 14, 2009. I was 32 weeks pregnant.

That day, I was transferred by ambulance to University Hospital.  I underwent multiple ultrasounds and was evaluated by dozens of doctors who tried to get to the bottom of what was happening to our baby. Four days later, Sadie Elisabeth Heshelman was born by cesarean section and was diagnosed with persistent cloaca—a rare anorectal malformation that effects 1 in 25,000 girls. We only got a glimpse of her face before she was whisked away, stabilized and intubated, and taken to Riley. Amazingly, despite the rarity of Sadie’s condition, she was in the hands of one of few physicians who are highly skilled in the treatment of persistent cloaca. Dr. Rink, along with the rest of the nationally-ranked urology team, are experts in the care of girls just like Sadie who travel from all over the country to receive urological care at Riley.

Sadie underwent her first of many surgeries when she was 24 hours old. When we arrived to the surgery area, we were greeted by manager Sarah Lookabill. While the surgery team cared for our baby, Sarah made sure we were taken care of as well. It was a very scary and lonely time. Our baby was diagnosed with a birth defect of which we’d never heard. We were in the midst of an H1N1 flu epidemic and were not allowed visitors—and of course, it was only one week until Christmas. But somehow, the Riley NICU staff made us feel like we were right at home.

Sadie was in the NICU for just over two weeks, and spent another four days in the infant unit.  We have returned to Riley many times for visits and surgeries with her amazing care team. Doctors Rink, Wilson, Scherer, and Boaz have been fantastic these past six years. And every time we enter the hospital, it feels like coming home.  

Today, Sadie is a happy and healthy kindergartener. Her extraordinary life is the result of countless prayers, as well as the exceptionally skilled care she continues to receive at Riley Hospital for Children.    

Did you know? The Pediatric Urology program at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health is ranked with in the top ten programs in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report.


Diana Heshelman

Diana Heshelman is a registered nurse who works from home as a clinical appeals consultant, and is a part-time health professional and lactation consultant with the WIC program. She and her husband, Chris, live in rural Randolph County. They have two daughters, Elena and Sadie.


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