After a normal pregnancy and delivery, Marisela and Michael couldn’t wait to see their beautiful baby girl. Right away, though, they noticed something was wrong. Incredibly, Hannah was born with a condition known as bladder exstrophy—her bladder was outside of her body and turned inside out.
Hannah was taken to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital, with only a 48-hour window to perform a delicate surgery to repair her bladder.
A Matter of Urgency
“It didn’t take but a moment to realize something was a little off,” says Marisela, recalling the first time she held Hannah in the delivery room. “I thought it was because of the angle I was looking at her, but her umbilical cord was a little down and off to the side and she had a tiny, balloon-like protrusion in her abdomen.”
The obstetrician who delivered Hannah thought the protrusion could be her bladder and called for the opinion of the neonatologist on staff, who agreed.
Soon afterward, the family received a visit from Andrew Labbie, MD, urologist on staff at Nicklaus Children's. He explained Hannah’s condition and the urgent need to repair her bladder. Due to the flexibility of Hannah’s bones in the first few days of life, Dr. Labbie would be able to repair her bladder and reset her pelvic bones without breaking them.
The Delicate Procedure
“With bladder exstrophy, the bladder isn’t round—it’s flat like a pancake,” explains Dr. Labbie. “We have to make it into a ball and place it where it should be in the abdomen. Because the umbilical cord was placed at the top of her bladder, we also had to create a bellybutton.”
To assist with positioning the pelvic bone, Hannah needed orthopaedic surgery and a cast to keep her pelvic bone in place.
For six weeks following the surgery, Hannah was in the cast that went from under her arms to her ankles.
The Road to Recovery
Despite the critical condition in which she was born, Hannah recovered beautifully from surgery and continued to do well. Then, around age 2, she began having complications due to frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are common for children affected by the condition. Hannah had ureter implantation surgery performed by Dr. Labbie, and her UTIs disappeared.
“Dr. Labbie and his staff have been wonderful,” says Marisela. “When we first heard about bladder exstrophy, the prognosis sounded very bleak. Some children never retain continence, but Hannah has and her bladder has grown significantly. Our 6-year-old little girl is a miracle thanks to Dr. Labbie and Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital.”