In January 2019, Micole Hopke and her husband, Patrick, went for what they assumed would be a routine checkup of their unborn child, Jackson, who was due on April 3. An ultrasound showed a large mass on Jackson’s left lung.
Micole was referred to the Fetal Care Center, a collaboration among St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University Physicians. Once there, and after some additional tests, Jackson was diagnosed with a large congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM)—a lung lesion that forms prior to birth and continues to grow—that contained fluid-filled cysts.
“The CCAM was causing Jackson’s heart to shift and be crushed,” Micole says. “He was on the verge of heart failure.”
That same day, Michael Bebbington, MD, Washington University fetal surgeon and director of the Fetal Care Center, performed an in utero procedure to drain the cysts in Jackson’s CCAM. This reduced the mass and gave Jackson’s heart room to function. However, the cyst refilled within a week, so the Hopkes opted for a shunt placement procedure, which provided a continuous drain for the cyst until it could be removed after Jackson was born.
An Escalating Concern
The Hopkes continued to make weekly visits to the Fetal Care Center to monitor Jackson’s status. During this time, Micole’s OB/GYN noticed her blood pressure continued to rise.
On March 5, the Hopkes discovered that Jackson’s cysts had refilled. At the same time, Micole’s blood pressure had risen.
“For both Jackson’s and my health, my OB/GYN said I had to give birth soon,” Micole says. “Dr. Bebbington did one last cyst drainage, and I was sent back for a caesarean section.”
Immediately following birth, Jackson moved to the NICU, just steps away from where Micole was recovering.
The Road to Recovery
Two days after Jackson was born, Washington University pediatric surgeons successfully removed his lung mass, and Jackson’s heart began to return to a normal position. As Jackson recovered, the Hopkes felt taken care of as well.
Micole and Patrick spent valuable time with Jackson’s nurses to develop a feeding plan, created a to-do list to track milestones Jackson needed to reach before he could go home, and even took an infant CPR refresher course.
Once Jackson’s feeding tube was removed and he was breathing on his own, Micole and Patrick were able to give Jackson his first bath.
On March 22, just 16 days after Jackson was born, he graduated from the NICU and was able to go home.
Now that the Hopkes are all home together, Patrick and Micole still rely on tips and advice they received from their medical team and physical, occupational and speech therapists during their stay in the NICU.
“We could not have asked for a higher level of knowledge, respect and overall care during our time at St. Louis Children’s NICU,” Micole says. “We are endlessly grateful for the role everyone played in Jackson’s arrival and subsequent care.”
To learn more about the Fetal Care Center or NICU, call 314.454.KIDS (5437) or toll-free at 800.678.KIDS.