2017 Hartford LIVEr Champion: Brooke Rinaldi
Wow, we’re pregnant with twins! We had a very uneventful pregnancy; all checkups, ultrasounds and measurements showed 2 healthy babies. On May 26, 2005 at 39 weeks and 2 days, we had 2 healthy baby girls. Brooke was born first and then Alexa, 10 minutes later. After all preliminary tests came back normal, we were sent home 2 days later.
After 5 weeks, we noticed that Brooke was looking jaundice and her stool was lighter. On June 27, 2005 we called the pediatrician, who had us come in right away. Dr. Knox looked Brooke over and told us we needed to bring her to the lab for blood work, immediately. That same evening, we got the call that Brooke’s bilirubin was elevated and we needed to go see a Gastroenterologist at CCMC – they scheduled us with Dr. Hyams for June 29, 2005.
After more blood work, an ultrasound and a liver biopsy, it was confirmed that Brooke had Biliary Atresia – a rare condition where the bile ducts have been damaged and bile cannot flow out of the liver causing a buildup. My husband and I had never heard of Biliary Atresia and had no idea how serious Brooke’s condition was. Dr. Hyam’s told us that it could be fatal and there is no cure. Our only hope was to perform a Kasai procedure. We came home that evening feeling completely helpless, overwhelmed with sadness and hoped that we had made the right decision in scheduling this procedure.
On July 13, 2005, Brooke underwent a successful Kasai procedure and 9 days later, we brought her home. We had an army of medicine and multiple vitamins to give her, but we were so happy to have her home with us. After the Kasai procedure, in April 2006, Brooke had a bout of gastroenteritis and was hospitalized for 2 days. Then, in September 2007, she developed cholangitis – a common infection that develops when the contents of the intestines back up into the liver, which is common after the Kasai procedure. After 5 days in the hospital, she was sent home with a pic line to administer intravenous antibiotics for the next 18 days.
We have been very fortunate with Brooke’s health, in spite of her disease, and breathe a sigh of relief whenever we get her blood work results and there are no problems. Every year and every blood test is a major milestone for Brooke. We are thankful with every year that Brooke doesn’t have any major medical issues and she continues to grow into a beautiful young girl.