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(Jill) Hippe notes that there were several miracles that occurred along the way, but there was one big miracle. Common among premature infants is for the ductus arteriosus to be open. This is a blood vessel in a fetus that allows blood to bypass the lungs. After birth, the infant’s first breaths cause the circulation to change. Since the vessel had not closed, some of the blood for Kendyl’s and Kennedy’s bodies would return to the lungs, causing their tiny hearts to work extra hard to get enough blood to their bodies.
"Hospital Benefits from CMN Celebration"
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 16, 2004) -- Grace “ Kendyl” Gayle Hippe, 8 months, daughter of Gordon and Jill Hippe, of Lexington, will be featured as a “champion” during the “2004 Children’s Miracle Network Celebration” June 18 and 19.
On Oct. 1, 2003, Jill Hippe, pregnant with twin girls, went into labor at 23 weeks and 1 day gestation.
She was transferred from a local hospital to the University of Kentucky Hospital, where a UK Children’s Hospital level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) would be available to offer specialized care for the babies. But even in the NICU, where UK Children’s Hospital’s tiniest patients stay, no babies had ever been admitted as young as 23 weeks and 1 day. Doctors knew each day they could delay delivering the babies, the better chance they would have to survive.
“They really wanted to get to 24 weeks to greater the chances,” Hippe said.
But, that didn't happen, and the babies came that day. Kendyl, weighing one pound and three ounces, delivered first and gasped for air.
“That’s when they realized, we’re going to do something about this,” Hippe said.
Kennedy, who weighed one pound and four ounces, was born just a few minutes later. From there, Hippe said, it was a rollercoaster.
“They are actually the youngest that made it up to the NICU. Just the fact that we were admitted was pretty incredible,” she said.
One of their father’s fingers was larger than the thickness of their legs. The size of their tiny heads was comparable to that of a lemon.
“Specialized care for the twins was a real team effort in the NICU,” said Henrietta Bada, M.D., professor of neonatology, UK College of Medicine, and medical director of the NICU.
Hippe notes that there were several miracles that occurred along the way, but there was one big miracle. Common among premature infants is for the ductus arteriosus to be open. This is a blood vessel in a fetus that allows blood to bypass the lungs. After birth, the infant’s first breaths cause the circulation to change. Since the vessel had not closed, some of the blood for Kendyl’s and Kennedy’s bodies would return to the lungs, causing their tiny hearts to work extra hard to get enough blood to their bodies.
The defect was treated with the drug indomethacin, however it was causing side effects. Doctors knew that if the babies survived until Friday, Oct. 10 they could perform surgery to close the vessel. However, with the side effects the babies were experiencing from the medication, their chances of living until Friday were few.
“Dr. DeFranco had a light bulb moment,” Jill Hippe said.
In Canada and Europe, ibuprofen is used to treat the defect, and doctors thought it may cause fewer side effects for the twins. However, the drug is still being researched in the United States and is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Paul Defranco, D.O., professor of pediatrics, division of neonatology , UK College of Medicine, began trying to expedite approval for compassionate use of ibuprofen for the twins. Although it would typically take weeks for approval, Defranco, in a matter of 24 hours, was able to go through the channels to get approval for the drug to be used on the twins.
Unfortunately, Kennedy passed away during those 24 hours.
They immediately started using the drug for Kendyl and the vessel did close. It reopened on Friday morning, however, the drug had bought Kendyl enough time to increase her chances of surviving surgery.
After the surgery, which was successful, Kendyl continued to improve.
“ She just did so well. Everything they were doing was apparently just the right thing,” Hippe said.
After spending over three months at UK Children’s Hospital, Kendyl was able to go home with her parents and 8-year-old sister Kirstyn on January 7. Typically, premature babies go home at the time of their original due dates. However, Kendyl was able to leave the hospital a few weeks before that date.
“There are a number of difficulties that premature babies face, such as bleeding of the brain, however, Kendyl has experienced none of those,” Bada said.
She did have an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity, however she outgrew it. And although she went home on oxygen, she now only sleeps with it.
“She’s just eating and growing now,” her mother said.
“We just sing their praises,” Hippe said of the hospital staff. “We felt the right people were there when we needed them to be there.”
Kendyl and other children will be recognized as “champions” during the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration, which will be broadcast June 18 and 19 from Applebee’s Park in Lexington on WKYT-TV, channel 27 (Lexington), and WYMT-TV, channel 57 (Hazard). Co-hosts are Barbara Bailey and Bill Bryant of WKYT-TV, and Stacy McCloud of WYMT-TV.
During the broadcast, the program will feature and celebrate the triumphs of UK’s young patients and the health issues they are facing. The annual program will not only recognize the children as champions, but also the many people who champion children, such as families, health professionals, individuals, volunteers and donors.
The Celebration will be broadcast from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 18 and from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 19.
During televised hours of the celebration, call toll-free (877) 862-5444 to make a donation. To make a donation before or after the Celebration is broadcast, or to receive more information about the Children’s Miracle Network, call (859) 257-1121.