When baby girl was born, she had to be put on the ventilator to be able to breathe and sustain life. Eventually, as her lungs matured, they weaned (decreased) her off the ventilator and on to high flow oxygen (CPAP). Since she was only born at 24 weeks gestation and only 1 pound 3 oz., they had to give her lungs a lot of oxygen (help) to be able to function properly. They were able to eventually put her on regular nasal cannula and able to completely wean her off the oxygen 2 weeks before discharging home.
When a baby is given too much of anything, it can be bad.. and that was the case for baby girl. She was on oxygen for too long, causing damage to the vessels of her eye. Here is a textbook definition of her diagnosis:
Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a potentially blinding disease caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels in premature infants. The retina is the inner layer of the eye that receives light and turns it into visual messages that are sent to the brain.
Basically, she could have been blind. There are five different stages in which the doctor is able to determine if her eyes are getting better or worse at each visit and draws a picture for us. Here is a description of the five stages:
Stage I — Mildly abnormal blood vessel growth. Many children who develop stage I improve with no treatment and eventually develop normal vision. The disease resolves on its own without further progression.
Stage II — Moderately abnormal blood vessel growth. Many children who develop stage II improve with no treatment and eventually develop normal vision. The disease resolves on its own without further progression.
Stage III — Severely abnormal blood vessel growth. The abnormal blood vessels grow toward the center of the eye instead of following their normal growth pattern along the surface of the retina. Some infants who develop stage III improve with no treatment and eventually develop normal vision. However, when infants have a certain degree of Stage III and “plus disease” develops, treatment is considered. “Plus disease” means that the blood vessels of the retina have become enlarged and twisted, indicating a worsening of the disease. Treatment at this point has a good chance of preventing retinal detachment.
Stage IV — Partially detached retina. Traction from the scar produced by bleeding, abnormal vessels pulls the retina away from the wall of the eye.
Stage V — Completely detached retina and the end stage of the disease. If the eye is left alone at this stage, the baby can have severe visual impairment and even blindness.
Baby girl had stage 3 when we took her home from the NICU. They were VERY concerned about her and wanted to make sure we did NOT miss her first follow-up appointment, because she was only 2 stages away from having her retina detach, causing blindness in both eyes.
We prayed, and prayed and prayed more over baby girl. Even our pastor prayed over her for complete healing in her body. God is so good (even in the bad times), because let me tell you at the first follow up appointment from being released, the Ophthalmologist thought he was looking at a different baby. He called her a “miracle” and how her eyes have gotten so much better, so fast!
Let me show you a little of what we were looking at in the beginning from her first appointment from when she was first born, to now. Her eyes are not completely healed, but we are getting so close and know it’s in her future!
All I can say is, wow! She is doing amazing and she is able to follow without straining of any vessels and she really works hard to listen to everything going on around her!
**Please say a little prayer for complete healing of her eyes, and the damage that was done due to being so premature, to be gone and have no lasting effect!**
©2016 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.