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Gastroschisis: Warren's Story

500th baby born at Children's Mercy Fetal Health Center thriving

When Mariah Schumacher had a blood screening test indicating something was wrong with her baby 18 weeks into her pregnancy, she had no idea what to expect. Her husband was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Mo., but the Schumachers were referred to the Elizbeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

The center provides on-site delivery services for families of high-risk infants, giving them immediate access to the region’s only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit and keeping families closer together.

An ultrasound confirmed Mariah’s baby boy had gastroschisis, a condition where the baby is born with the intestines outside the body because of a defect in the abdominal wall. 

After consulting with the Fetal Health Center team, the Schumachers learned their baby would need at least one surgery following birth to fit the intestines back inside the baby’s abdomen. 

It was a scary, scary time for the family, but Timothy Bennett, MD, Medical Director of Fetal Health Services at Children’s Mercy, reassured them.

"While uncommon for babies to be born at a children's hospital, it's impossible to overstate the benefits for families like the Schumachers of giving birth to a very high-risk infant at a facility such as ours," Dr. Bennett said.

"We assure families that when every second counts, their newborn immediately receives the specialized care that a comprehensive children's hospital provides.” 

Close to Mom, close to specialty care

For the Schumachers and their baby boy, Warren, that was definitely the case. Born on Sept. 28, 2015, at 5 lbs., 8 oz., and 18 inches long, Warren was the 500th birth at the Elizabeth J. Ferrell Fetal Health Center. 

Mariah gave birth in a Fetal Health Center delivery room designed with a connecting stabilization room so that Warren's condition could be assessed immediately. In that room, the team monitored his breathing, administered an IV and prepared him for surgery.

"I can't even imagine not having that room that's connected. It was just so awesome getting to see my baby right away instead of him being whisked off to a different part of the hospital, or even a different hospital altogether," Mariah said. "That was really special."

During surgery, the team discovered Warren did not have enough room in his abdomen for his intestines, so they switched to a "bag" approach. 

This is the case in about 15 percent of infants with gastroschisis. The surgeon puts the intestines in a "bag" attached to the baby's belly, and gently squeezes them back inside in the abdomen over the course of several days. This allows the belly to stretch and prevents damage to other organs.

Because he had such a complex case, Warren ended up having three surgeries at Children’s Mercy. The team closed Warren's abdomen on Oct. 3, 2015, and he went home a few weeks later.

Thriving at 2!

Warren is now just a little more than 2 years old. Mariah said she can’t thank the Fetal Health Center and NICU staff enough for taking such great care of her and her little boy.

“I know in my heart that he turned 2 because of all of you,” Mariah said. “Warren is now perfectly healthy in every way.

“I will never stop thanking you all for what you do. Children's Mercy is not only amazing for their wonderful staff and the services they provide, but also because of their innovative drive to deliver more services to treat children better and faster. Thank you all from the bottoms of our hearts!”

About the Fetal Health Center

In 2010, Elizabeth J. and James E. Ferrell gave a generous gift that helped create the Fetal Health Center at Children's Mercy. With the Center's opening, Children's Mercy became one of only a few children's hospitals in the country to offer comprehensive care, including on-site delivery, for babies with fetal anomalies. Today, the Center provides some of the most specialized care in the country for high-risk babies before, during and after delivery.

Children's Mercy is an American College of Surgeons Verified Center

Highest level of surgical care

Children’s Mercy is one of only 30 locations in the nation to be verified by the American College of Surgeons as a Level 1 Children’s Surgery Center.