By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Faith Ann Adelmann was born Jan. 17, 2010 weighing one pound 10.5 ounces, and was less than 12 inches long.
She was tiny, but she has proven to her parents, Andrea Mueller, a 1995 Lester Prairie graduate, and Joseph Adelmann of Belle Plaine, she is a fighter, who has survived multiple times in spite of the medical odds against her.
Today, she weighs 15 pounds and is 25 inches long. After nine exhausting and uncertain months for her parents, Faith was finally discharged Oct. 18 from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX, after receiving a successful lung transplant Sept. 15.
Faith is the youngest patient to receive a lung transplant at the Texas hospital, which is one of only two institutions performing more than 10 pediatric lung transplants per year, Mueller said.
The hospital bill to date for Faith’s care and surgeries is estimated to be $4.6 million, according to Mueller.
A benefit to help cover travel expenses and medicine for Faith, that is not covered by insurance, is to take place at Holy Trinity’s school cafeteria from 4:30 to 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6.
Mueller and Adelmann feel fortunate to have had good health coverage which has paid for a majority of the medical bills.
But airfare back and forth to Houston since Faith was transferred there Aug. 3 has been a big expense, and she will have to remain in the Houston area for three months to ensure there aren’t any complications.
Besides the airfare, money is tight, with at least one of Faith’s parents at a time taking leave from work to help care for their daughter.
In addition, there will be follow-up checkups at three, six, nine, 12, 18, 24, and 30 months after the transplant, and periodically after that, which will mean more trips back to Houston.
It was almost a year ago, that Mueller developed complications in the 17th week of her pregnancy when her water broke and doctors expected her to miscarry within 48 hours.
Every week, Mueller had a doctor’s appointment to see if the baby still had a heartbeat. If there wasn’t any heartbeat, the doctors would then do a D & C, which is a common medical procedure following a miscarriage.
“Joe and I did a lot of praying that we wouldn’t lose her,” Mueller said. “We could have had a voluntary D & C, but we said as long as she has a heartbeat she is staying, and it’s God’s choice on what he wants to happen,” Mueller said.
When Faith still had a heartbeat at 23 weeks, Mueller was hospitalized and monitored twice a day to watch the baby’s vital signs.
“That was when she (Faith) was considered viable,” Mueller said. “Anything before 23 weeks is too early, and they can’t do much for them.”
On Jan. 17, at 27 weeks, 10 weeks from the time Mueller’s water broke, Faith was born by Caesarian section.
Faith’s health continued to improve and her parents were waiting for the day, they could bring her home.
But in late June and early July she had several setbacks, including pneumonia, and doctors began talking about the possibility of Faith needing a lung transplant.
Because she was born before the 37th week of pregnancy, Faith was considered premature and a common problem facing babies born too soon is underdeveloped lungs.
The lack of oxygen resulting from her lungs not being fully developed was also putting stress on her heart.
Texas Children’s Hospital was contacted to do a possible lung transplant and Aug. 3, Faith was flown by jet to the hospital to see if she would be accepted as a transplant recipient.
And then the waiting began again. First to find out if she would be accepted as a lung recipient, and then, once she was accepted into the transplant program, waiting to see if there would be donor lungs available in time.
Throughout all of the waiting, Mueller said, “we were taking it one day at a time, just like we did from the first day. Every day we are able to have her is a blessing to us.”
On Sept. 15, at 6:55 a.m., Mueller received a call saying the hospital had received two lung donations.
At 3:30 p.m. Faith went into surgery, which lasted approximately 12 hours. Her surgery went well.
Following the surgery, as happy as the occasion was for Adelmann and Mueller, they asked their family and friends to pray for the family who lost their child and had the strength to be a donor and save the life of their daughter.
The projected survival statistics for pediatric lung transplants are getting better slowly, although lungs have the shortest survival rate of any organ, according to Mueller. The survival probability at one year is 85 percent, five years is 65 perent and 10 years is 40 percent, according to the Texas Children’s Hospital website.
Faith has continued to improve and Adelmann and Mueller enjoyed their first weekend outside of the hospital with Faith Oct. 18 at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston.
They spent a good deal of the weekend organizing all of the medicine that Faith will have to continue to take, and even more time just watching Faith as she is able to get a glimpse of the real world.