Being pregnant Ashlie Fowler from Bury, Greater Manchester, found out that her baby would be born with his organs ‘inside out’. This rare condition is called gastroschisis. The description of the diagnosis may sound horrible, but a baby born with it can live a full life.
Ashlie and her partner Carl were looking forward to the birth of their firstborn. The couple loves surfing as well as Hawaiian culture, so they chose a Hawaiian name Koa for their son, that means "warrior, fighter."
12 weeks into her pregnancy, Ashlie realized that the chosen name is a perfect match for her baby. At the ultrasound the doctor said that Koa had gastroschisis, a birth defect in which the front of the abdominal wall does not develop properly, and internal organs can fall out through the cleft abdomen.
“I was mortified, obviously I didn't know what it was,” Ashlie recalls. “I had no idea what that meant."
The doctor said the bowels were outside of the body, and that was enough to make the woman panic. But over time, the doctors gave her hope that everything would be all right.
"I started seeing specialists, and they were confident he was going to be okay," the baby's mother said.
At first, the doctors had decided that Ashlie would have a natural delivery, but then they opted for a C-section. The woman was not allowed to hold the baby straight after the delivery, since Koa was immediately placed in an incubator and taken away. His organs were put in a special bag to keep them from drying, losing heat or getting any infection.
According to Ashlie, Koa did not feel any pain, because he looked happy swaddled in the incubator.
Koa was operated on just 4 hours after his birth. His bowels were returned to his body and the abdominal wall was sewn up. Koa was not allowed to eat for a whole week. The boy was fed through a catheter.
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“He was on morphine for three or four days but after then was just on paracetamol,” Koa's mother said.
Koa stayed at hospital for a month. Meanwhile his mother got up at a quarter to five every day, drove an hour to the hospital, and spent time with the baby.
When Koa was in the ICU, Ashlie had a hard time. Carl had to work to support the two of them, so most of the time Ashlie coped with everything by herself. She constantly called her mother for support.
Because of the pandemic, she wasn't allowed to visit her son in the hospital for a long time. But all in all everything ended well.
Although the doctors expected Koa to spend 6 weeks at hospital, the boy was discharged only after 4 weeks.
Ashlie is extremely grateful to the doctors. “If it wasn't for them he wouldn't be alive right now. They come and check on him every few days too to make sure he's putting on weight,” Ashlie shares.
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