It was supposed to be a normal c-section. But when their baby girl was born, she was seriously ill. She weighed only 4 pounds 11 ounces when Catie Phillips arrived at the Children’s Hospital of Georgia. The doctors were brutally honest. Catie’s Dad, Gregg Phillips remembers the doctor’s exact words. “You basically have the sickest child in Augusta, Georgia right now and that’s not a title you want,” he said. It was a stunning description coming from a place that’s seen so many sick kids. It was a birthday this dad will never forget. His wife Michelle puts it another way. “It was a very eventful day,” she said. “None of it that we were prepared for.”
It was pulmonary hypertension. Her lungs were enlarged and not filling her blood with oxygen. Her overworking heart was enlarged too and so was her liver. Catie’s life was hanging in the balance and her father Gregg needed to be in two places. He still gets emotional thinking about it. “I had to figure out whether to leave her,” he says “or come with Catie.” It’s a memory that brings tears to both of their eyes. But our Children’s Hospital had something most hospitals don’t.
An ECMO machine that would take Catie’s blood out of her body, process it, and return it to her. Something her own organs could not do. “She literally fit in the palm of my hand,” Gregg recalled. 14 months later, and you can see the difference. Dr Afshin Ameri has been there for the Phillips since the beginning. He’s happy to see a healthy looking baby girl sitting on her father’s lap. Catie, who is clearly loving all the attention, let out an excited yell, catching her parents and her doctor by surprise. That’s good medicine too. Something this family could only pray for. They say without the Children’s Hospital of Georgia, Catie would not be alive today.