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Isabelle’s story: Living life to the full after surgery

12 November 2021

Meet Isabelle, climber of trees, swimmer and taekwondo athlete.

Isabelle, now eight years old, has a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. Her mum Lyndsay found out at her 20 week scan back in 2012 that Isabelle had a hole in her diaphragm. This meant that her bowel had moved into her chest cavity causing restricted lung growth and the movement of her heart.

Sheffield Children’s Dr Marven, Consultant Paediatric Surgeon came on board and recommended that Lyndsay would be induced at 38 weeks to ensure the safety of Isabelle and Lyndsay. Six weeks prior to this, Lyndsay was invited into the hospital to take a look around the intensive care unit to see where the nurses and doctors would take care of her and her baby.

Lyndsay said: “Visiting the unit before giving birth helped put my mind at ease and took away the scariness of what was to come. It was helpful to know where I was going to be.”

With a plan in place, Lyndsay explained: “I was induced at 38 weeks and Isabelle arrived at Jessops. When Isabelle was two days old she was transported to the Sheffield Children’s intensive care unit. She was then operated on the next day where a gortex patch was placed over the hole in her diaphragm which helped move her bowel, lungs and heart back to the correct locations. The surgery was a success which meant Isabelle was moved to the surgical ward out of intensive care and was weaned off sedation where they began to feed her milk and oxygen through a tube, four weeks later I was able to take Isabelle home.”

When Isabelle visited for her 20 month check-up, scans showed that the gortex patch had begun to detach itself and her bowel had begun to move back into her chest cavity. Isabelle was back in the Sheffield Children’s hospital for two nights and received surgery to rectify the patch.

Isabelle never let her condition hold her back, taking on swimming lessons and taekwondo. Lyndsay said: “Isabelle is a determined, laid back girl with a dry sense of humour and she lives her life to the full.”

In 2019 Isabelle visited the Sheffield Children’s for one of her regular check-ups where she had a Barium Swallow, a special type of x-ray that checks for problems in the upper gastrointestinal tract which includes the mouth, stomach and intestines. The x-ray showed a small part of the bowel had entered into the chest, so the team decided to keep an eye on it. 18 months later, Isabelle needed the care of the Sheffield Children’s Emergency Department as she had stomach pains. They found that she had adhesions on her stomach, and immediately admitted her for treatment. Over the next four days Isabelle had an NG tube, which is the insertion of a plastic tube through her nose and into her stomach; this helped take the pressure off her bowel. Isabelle also received lots of IV fluids before going home.

Isabelle said: “All the doctors, nurses, porters and play staff are all amazing people. They do everything they can to help you relax and keep calm when things get scary. They try to make things fun and cheer you up.”

This November Isabelle will be receiving a brand new gortex patch to mend the hole in her diaphragm, helping her continue climbing trees, swimming and having many more adventures.

Lyndsay said: “You can’t knock the care Isabelle has received, we were included in everything and we were always well informed. Dr Marven was and continues to be amazing in providing care for Isabelle and the support from the Nurses is always brilliant.”

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