From Fighting to Breathe to Full of Life
“No one could ever accuse him of not having a personality,” Tricia Rife says about her son Andrew. “He is just a typical 4-year-old that makes you laugh a lot but also thinks he knows everything.” Andrew is full of energy and loves nerf guns, cars, trucks, basketball, and playing outside. No one who met him now would suspect that from the time he took his first breath, he had to fight to keep breathing.
Twenty-seven weeks into Tricia’s pregnancy, her water broke. Three weeks later, little Andrew was born with a gap in his esophagus, and he was life-lined to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. To make an already difficult situation worse, Andrew’s stomach ruptured the next day, and he had to be rushed into a high risk surgery. Tricia was told that her baby boy may not survive. The Rifes spent the next 13 weeks at the Riley NICU where Andrew underwent several other procedures. At five weeks old, Andrew’s esophagus was surgically connected by a Riley surgeon.
During this time, many Riley nurses helped Tricia overcome a lot of stress and focus on her son. The rest of the Riley community surrounded the Rifes and made them feel at home. “They just became our family,” Tricia said. “It stinks that your kid is in the hospital, but there’s no other place I would rather take him. We fully trust those at Riley.”
After surviving so much, Andrew is now a healthy boy who only goes to Riley for routine checkups – and his family is grateful for the outcome. “Riley literally saved Andrew’s life,” Tricia said. “If it weren’t for the donors then Andrew wouldn’t be here today.”
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