Saint Louis Fetal Care Institute Gives Miracle Babies The Chance To Celebrate Their First Birthday

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Twins Carson and Kellen fought the battle of a lifetime when they entered the world.

SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center | St. Louis Fetal Care Institute

St Louis Fetal Care Institute

A year ago Elizabeth and Preston Clark weren’t sure their twin boys Carson and Kellen would ever make it home. While he was still growing inside his mother, Carson developed a neck mass the size of a cantaloupe that blocked his airway, and his positioning inside the womb made delivering his healthy brother Kellen difficult.

The doctors at the St. Louis Fetal Care Institute worked to find a way to save the boys. “Carson’s cervical teratoma neck mass was distorting his airway so much we knew he wouldn’t be able to breathe on his own at birth. We also knew we would need a significant amount of time to secure his airway and ensure his safety,” says Fetal Care Institute Director Dr. Mike Vlastos.

The positioning of the two boys in-utero also presented a challenge. “Carson was on top of Kellen, which meant we needed to get him out first, secure his airway, then deliver Kellen. Despite constant monitoring of Kellen during the birth, there would still be risks,” says Dr. Vlastos. After careful research and planning by the doctors and the family, a rare twin EXIT delivery (Ex Utero Intrapartum Treatment Procedure) was planned to give both boys the chance at life.

On Nov. 8, 2011, a team of more than 30 surgeons, neonatologists, nurses and specialists assembled at SSM Cardinal Glennon to bring Carson and Kellen into the world. During the EXIT delivery, which is similar to a cesarean section, Carson’s head and arms were delivered first, but he remained attached to the placenta still in the uterus, which served as life support while the team secured an airway and made sure he was stable enough for delivery.

After they were delivered, the boys were immediately transferred to a special twin room at the Cardinal Glennon Dana Brown Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Three days later Carson underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove the neck mass, which was one-third of his body weight. Bit by bit, surgeons were able to remove the mass, which had grown along the right side of his neck, face and head. Following the surgery he faced a long road to recovery.

“The highlight of this year was finally being able come home as a family after a four-month stay in the NICU,” recalls Elizabeth.

Now, a year after they made their entrance, the twin boys are getting ready to celebrate with a Monster Mash birthday party at their grandparent’s home. Over the past year Carson has continued to heal, and grow into a vivacious toddler with his twin brother Kellen. “He can sit up by himself, roll over, and is taking steps with help,” says Elizabeth.

Carson still requires supplemental oxygen when he is sleeping, and has a tracheostomy tube to assist with his breathing and communication, but doctors see no reason to expect he won’t grow into a healthy adult. “We are always thrilled to see little ones have such positive outcomes as Carson,” Vlastos says. “The smiling faces of him and his brother are what keeps us going every day.”


About The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute

The St. Louis Fetal Care Institute is a partnership between SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, SSM St. Mary’s Health Center, and Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Bringing together renowned maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialists, pediatric and fetal surgeons, specialized nurses, cutting-edge technology, and a family-oriented approach, The Institute offers state-of-the-art diagnostic methods and treatment options for families whose unborn babies are facing medical challenges. It is the leading comprehensive fetal care program in Middle America offering a variety of fetal interventions and treatments, including open and minimally invasive fetal surgery for babies in the womb.

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Ashley Wiehle
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