Necrotizing Enterocolitis | NICU Graduate

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital

Easton's Story

Shortly after her 30 week ultrasound, Kassie had unexpected complications and was admitted to the hospital. She was told she would be there until giving birth. Easton’s best chance was for Kassie to make it to 32 weeks.

Kassie made it to exactly 32 weeks. Easton was born at 4:06am, weighing 4lbs. 4 oz. He was taking a bottle, nursing, had no respiratory support and was doing well in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at his delivery hospital.

One week following his birth, Easton’s oxygen saturations suddenly lowered during one of his feedings. Easton would need to be transferred to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “We didn’t know why or what that meant. To us he looked completely fine. We had no idea how serious it was – how truly, truly sick he was.” said Kassie.

Easton was transferred via ambulance with the neonatal transport team to SSM Health Cardinal Glennon. The initial diagnosis was necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). In premature infants, NEC is a common gastrointestinal illness, affecting  about 1 in 1,000 premature babies.  

“It was upsetting to see Easton have this setback when he seemed to be doing well. We had just been told that morning to make sure the car seat was ready, and now we were on hourly monitoring and being told he may not make it through the night,” Kassie said. “They were doing x-rays, checking his stomach a lot and he wasn’t allowed to eat. Within 48 hours, he had a blood infection and they also found a brain bleed.

After getting the full picture of what Easton was facing, all Easton’s parents could do was wait. Wait for him to heal. Wait for what was to come, and wait for the consequences of his diagnosis. Easton spent 47 days at Cardinal Glennon.

A surprise to everyone involved, Easton’s NEC resolved completely without lifelong complications. After 21 days he was able to start feeding again. Easton continued to get daily head ultrasounds to assess his brain bleed. Although the bleed was revolving, it was considered a Grade 3 hemorrhage. Easton had developed hydrocephalus as a result of his brain bleed. Miraculously, Easton’s head growth stabilized. He avoided brain surgery; began to take full feeds and they were discharged two days before Thanksgiving!

At five months old, Easton’s neurosurgery check-up did not go as planned. MRI images of Easton’s brain revealed growth in the size of his ventricles. It was time for Easton to have surgery. Easton needed brain surgery to place a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt – a device permanently implanted inside the head and body to drain excess fluid away from the brain. Easton’s surgery went smoothly and he was able to go home the same day.

Since that time, Easton has surpassed all of his milestones and it would be difficult to assume he had any kind of medical history. Easton just celebrated his third birthday. He is a lover of all holidays and really any sort of social gathering. He loves gymnastics and plays on a tiny-tot soccer team. “Easton is the most extroverted, social person I have ever met. He just has something about him that draws you in.

How Funds Help Easton and Kids Like Him:

Funds raised by CMN-STL in-part funded the renovations of the Dana Brown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The NICU is a Level IV state of the art unit that provides private rooms for baby and parents.