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Featured Cherub: Emily Sowell


Featured Cherub: Emily Sowell

Today’s featured cherub is Emily Sowell. She is the daughter of April and Stephen Sowell. April had this to share about her daughter:

“In the fall of 1998, my husband, Stephen, and I were 25 years old and eagerly expecting the arrival of our daughter in early December. She instead decided to make her appearance in November – on Friday the 13th. When Emily was born, she had a brief, weak cry and turned blue. The doctor bagged her until she perked up. I held her for a brief moment. Stephen was allowed to take her to the nursery, where she was immediately put on oxygen. It took a few hours before they realized that she did indeed have a right-sided Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia. We were in a small, rural hospital in Mississippi, so she was transferred to LeBonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. She was born at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, and she was on ECMO by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. I arrived in Memphis just in time to sign the consent form for ECMO. The doctors gave her a 20-25% chance of survival. She was on ECMO for about 13 days. She did not have a smooth ECMO run, but she was able to come off. Stephen and I were tentatively hopeful when she was able to be ventilated with a standard ventilator without flipping into pulmonary hypertension.

Our hope was short-lived. Within 24 hours, she went into complete septic shock. A broviac had been put in when she came off ECMO, and it was infected. The central line in her leg would have to continue to be used. She was barely 24 hours off ECMO, in complete septic shock, and on the oscillator with 100% oxygen. That day the doctors prepared us for her passing. It just did not seem possible for her to survive, but she held her own. I know that God pulled her through that septic episode because the doctors were really at the end of their capabilities.

She finally came off the oscillator and recovered enough to be prepared for her repair surgery. She was repaired on Christmas Eve. By New Year’s Eve, she was back on the oscillator with signs of sepsis. She stayed on the oscillator for several days, but she finally made very small improvements. When they started to feed her, it became apparent that she had a chylothorax. It took several weeks for it to heal. In early February, it was obvious that she was vent dependent, so they performed a tracheostomy. She finally came off the ventilator in June. After seven months in the hospital, we took her home for the very first time!

She went back in October of that year to finish her repair, and she got her trach out in November of that year. We worked very hard with her to teach her to eat, and she got her g-tube out the next fall. She had to have both stomas surgically closed. She started walking at about 26 months. When she was four, we discovered that her original ABR had been misread, and she got hearing aids. She still loves her hearing aids!

During her elementary years, she was diagnosed with tight heel cords, and she ultimately had heel cord release surgery. Emily is now in college and doing well. Her favorite number has always been 13, and she considers Friday the 13th her lucky day, but we really know that there is no such thing as luck. God healed her, and we always give Him the glory for the many miracles He performed for her.”

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