CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A beautiful, big-eyed reason to count your blessings.
Ellie Walden is 15-months old and has had 7 brain surgeries. On average, that’s a brain surgery every two months.
But her mom says they’re thankful. That’s why she wrote.
“In the season of giving thanks, we want to say ‘Thank you to Levine Children's NICU, her talented Neurosurgeon, and her wonderful GI doctor,’” Jadda Walden said. "We depend on them. They've helped our daughter, who is one awesome girl."
Ellie – who’s from Monroe in Union County – was born prematurely at 27-weeks and 5-days. She weighed 2-lbs, 8-ounces and was NICU for five months (159 days if you were counting, which Jadda was).
The same day Jadda held her daughter for the first time – six days after being born – doctors discovered Ellie had an Intraventricular Hemorrhage (IVH) with a medium-to-high severity level. What does that mean? Bleeding in the brain’s ventricular system. Twelve days after the diagnosis, little Ellie caught an infection.
That infection turned into E.coli Meningitis.
“Infected blood was leaking into her brain, causing the meningitis,” Jadda said. “Ellie lost weight, which was entirely unnecessary being a preemie. Then, seizures started. She was transferred to Levine Children’s for the rest of her care.”
Jadda gave a small chuckle.
“Our daughter’s NICU stay was long and eventful.”
It was after her transfer to LCH the brain surgeries began. She had five of the total seven surgeries while in NICU. All of this was to help with seizures, and to put in two different shunts (one on each side of her head) and a g-tube.
Here’s how Jadda summarizes her daughter’s medical journey, so far:
1) The brain surgeries aren’t planned.
2) Sometimes Ellie’s doctors can predict a timeline, but nothing certain.
3) Ellie will most likely have many more surgeries in future.
4) There’s a high rate of failure for her shunts.
5) “Shunt revisions are common,” said Jadda. “Some kids have one their whole life and some have over 100.”
Other, more positive takeaways:
1) She has kept the same shunts for a whole year.
2) She spends her days in 4 different therapies…
3) …feeding, vision, physical and speech.
At 15-months old, Ellie’s mom says she’s as sweet as ever.
She is on the doctor’s radar to have another brain surgery… number 8… sometime in the near future.
Ellie, this photo of you is beautiful. Few more below in comments. But you have to know one of the best things about the entire email your mom wrote was how she signed her email.
“Love, Ellie’s Thankful Mom,
Happy Thanksgiving, Jadda. To you and your whole family.
*Editor’s note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it’s written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.