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Gabrielle's Story   — Sonny Erenstein, MN, USA

Gabrielle was born by a planned c-section (because she was breach) on May 27th, 2002. I had tested positive for GBS, but the chances of Gabby being infected with GBS were slim because of the c-section. Her story is very similar to the others I have read. When we got home Gabby seemed healthy and happy. She was eating very well, but seemed very tired. When I asked the home nurse and the dr at the first week check up I was told that she is a newborn, "they sleep". I had a gut feeling that something wasn't right. At 13 days old she awoke in the middle of the night crying, and not the normal "I'm hungry" cry. There was nothing my husband or I could do to soothe her. I thought she had gas or needed to poop. I even tried giving her a bath, which I'm sure was just torture for her. We called the nurses several times in the middle of the night and they scheduled an appointment at 10:00am. By 7:00am she was listless and looked terrible. We rushed her to the ER and she was immediately put on antibiotics via a vein from her head. They rushed her to the MPLS Children's Hospital. My husband and I drove and could not find anyone in the PICU to help us find her. It turned out that everyone available was helping our little girl. When someone did arrive at the front desk they escorted us to a small room and told us the dr would be with us shortly. The dr told us she was very sick -- Gabby was not breathing when she arrived. The tests comfirmed that it was GBS meninigitis. They also told us that we caught it early. For the next week Gabby fought with a vengeance and was moved out of the PICU. For the next 2 weeks she was getting better and eating and pooping like a 3 week old should, but the blood tests that the dr's did daily showed that there was still something wrong. Gabby wasn't making any blood and her brain was not growing-- she started to have seizures. Her little body was doing everything it could to fight off another infection. After countless other tests, radioactive bone scans, 3 spinal taps, chest and stomach x-rays, 3 blood transfusions, EKG, 4 ct- scans and a MRI it was confirmed that Gabrielle had subdural empyemas which are basically pus pockets (from the bacteria in her spinal fluid) that formed on the top of her brain under the skull. Emergency brain surgery was performed when she was 5 weeks old. According to the dr's it was not successful. The brain was already "digesting" these "scabs" and healing itself. They were hoping to peel them off. The dr's told us that it was a waiting game and that all brain injuries effect people differently. Another 3 days in PICU and she was sent home 5 days later with terrified parents! Today, Gabrielle is 3 years old. Her dr's consider her a miracle. Besides an ear to ear scar on top of her head (which is covered by hair) and a small scar on her chest from her port which administered antibiotics, there are no life-long problems. I wish I could have flashed to this point in her life while we were waiting in that PICU room with her. The unknown is truly a scary place! Her neurologist and rehabilitation dr don't want to see her until she goes to kindergarten. Sometimes I wonder why we were so unlucky, but then I have to keep reminding myself that we are very lucky to have Gabrielle so healthy. I know that her outcome from GBS meningitis is very rare. It has definitely changed our lives forever.

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