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Magnets Save Baby's Life

Little girl was born with deformity that made it impossible for her to eat.

Meet the Lamb triplets Ilyanna, Gideon, and sleepy little Willow. “There is never a dull moment, for sure,” their mother, Trelane Lamb said.

The trio has overcome many obstacles together. At 24-weeks pregnant, Trelane was given the news. “There’s a 30 percent chance that Gideon would make it and only I think a 70 percent chance that the girls would make it,” Trelane explained.

The preemies came into the world at 27-weeks. Gideon [came] first, then Ilyanna, both weighing just over two pounds. Willow weighed only 1 pound 13 ounces. Her fight for survival was about to begin.

“They don’t know why it happened,” Trelane said. “Because the two girls are identical and nothing is wrong with Ilyanna, but Willow had all these issues.”

It began with a rectovaginal fistula. “They came in and said, ‘Well she doesn’t have an anus,’ and [I said], ‘what does that mean?’ They [said], ‘We are going to have check but she does not have a hole,’” Trelane explained.

At 3-days old, a colostomy was created for her anorectal malformation and a G-tube was placed after further testing revealed her esophagus was not connected to her airway.

“She had a tube down her throat that would suck out basically all of her secretions so that she could breathe because she could drown,” Trelane said.

Eight months later, Dr. Harold Lovvorn first performed surgery on her esophagus to bring together the upper and lower ends.

“If your esophagus or food tube in interrupted, obviously [you] can’t eat,” Harold N. Lovvorn, III, MD, Pediatric Surgeon, Vanderbilt
University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn. said.

What he’d do next was a first in the U.S. Instead of another major surgery to connect them, he used specially designed medical magnets.

“It saves the baby a lot of additional pain, big scars, and big operations,” Dr. Lovvorn explained. The non-invasive procedure takes 20 minutes.

“We can place them through her mouth and then through her gastrostomy tube up the lower esophagus, so that they would have their physical attraction for one another,” Dr. Lovvorn said.

“It’s just a matter of sliding it up this way,” Dr. Lovvorn explained.

The magnets wear away at the tissue between them until they connect, creating a perfectly aligned opening between the two ends of the esophagus.  This allows food, saliva, and liquid to flow into Willow’s body.

“We think her prognosis is excellent,” Dr. Lovvorn said.

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