COLUMBUS (WCMH) — On a scale from one to 10, an introduction that begins with good-bye has to be at the bottom of the scale.
However, you have not met Brenlee Carnes.
“Her risk, by the time she came to us, was almost 100 percent. That’s why she came to us – because she was not surviving,” said Chief of Neo-Natalogy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH), Dr. Ed Sheperd.
Six months after her 2017 birth in South Carolina, Brenlee was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD,) which is a severe chronic lung disease.
It turned out that NCH was her only hope.
“We’re the only place in the world that has a unit solely for this group of patients,” said Shepherd.
“They already had a speech with us at our home hospital that they were going to let her go,” said Brenlee’s mom, Lauren Carnes.
Married to her high school sweetheart, Kyle, the Carnes tried for six years to have a baby. They turned to in-vitro fertilization and conceived twins. The babies died during premature birth at 20 weeks. Four years later, they used the same process, and Brenlee was born 24 weeks after conception.
“When that happens, their lungs don’t grow normally. And as you can imagine, as lungs don’t grow, babies get sicker,” said Shepherd.
Kyle and Lauren moved to Columbus and lived at the Ronald McDonald House during their transition, which is where they received a huge surprise.
“We just found out we were pregnant. And it was a scary time,” said Lauren.
Six months ago, Kinsley was born. There were no fertility treatments and no problems. They welcomed their healthy baby girl while her big sister remained at NCH on a ventilator for 755 days.
“Our pulmonary team and our NICU team have been able to really work together to meet her where she’s at and try to work through different ventilator strategies, different methods of support to try to get her to a stable point of being able to eventually go home, ” said NCH pulminatry specialist Dr. Katelyn Krevchenia.
“She and Brenlee, and they can interact, is just a wonderful, wonderful experience. You can’t put it into words,” said Lauren.
“And then having now gotten her home in the midst of a pandemic. So all of that added on to it makes this experience something we will never forget,” said Krevchenia.
For Brenlee’s doctor, saying goodbye is on an entirely different scale.
“In terms of the amount of effort to get her to where she is, from the family and from us, she’s about 100 on a scale of one to 10,” said Shepherd.