When Baya was born, she stopped breathing due to a lung infection. She spent three weeks in the Edwards Family NICU at the Alberta Children’s Hospital. Specialists first had to cool her body down because her organs were overworking. Then, after being on several medications and steroids, she slowly gained strength and was able to go home. Four months later, at a routine checkup, Baya’s head was measuring unusually large, so the family was referred back to the hospital. They met with pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Walter Hader who explained Baya likely had hydrocephalus – a buildup of fluid in the brain that proves fatal if untreated. The standard treatment is the insertion of a tube, called a shunt, to drain the fluid to the abdominal cavity where it is reabsorbed. However, infections are a common risk of shunts and patients often face multiple neurosurgeries to deal with complications that arise. This sounded terrifying to Lauren and Jamie, so they were anxious and hopeful when Dr. Hader mentioned Baya might be a candidate for a revolutionary new treatment, only recently brought to Calgary.
An MRI confirmed Baya had hydrocephalus. When she stopped breathing at birth, it caused a brain bleed that led to a clot and created scar tissue that was blocking her drainage pathway. However, the MRI also confirmed Baya was a candidate for the new, minimally-invasive procedure known as endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC). Neurosurgeon Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin trained on this procedure in both Africa and at the Boston Children’s Hospital before bringing his expertise to Calgary and now, the Alberta Children’s Hospital is one of only two sites in Canada that performs ETV/CPCs. Lauren and Jamie suddenly felt a sense of relief and hope, especially after meeting with Dr. Riva-Cambrin, who was confident and down to earth. A week later, Dr. Riva-Cambrin made a small opening in Baya’s skull and used a camera to guide tiny surgical tools in to create a new pathway for the excess fluid to drain. Then, he cauterized some of the glands that release the fluid so there wouldn’t be any more buildup. After 2 ½ hours, he announced the procedure had gone exactly as he had hoped.
Today, Baya is healthy, happy and meeting milestones. Lauren and Jamie shudder to think what would have happened if they hadn’t had access to the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Dr. Riva-Cambrin, whom they call their hero. “You gave us our baby back,” says Lauren.