Winchester staff celebrates birthday with miracle baby
First birthdays are usually shared with a close circle of family and friends. But for Ava Kawai of Winchester and her parents, Kerry and Paul, a second party was held Monday at Winchester Hospital for the doctors, nurses, and staff who, one year ago, took part in the family’s double miracle: saving Ava and Kerry’s lives.
Held high on her mother’s hip, Ava arrived at the birthday party to murmurs - “Oh, she’s beautiful!’’ - some tears, then applause from the crowd standing in a large conference room, cheerfully decorated with red Elmo and bright-yellow Big Bird napkins and party hats, balloons, birthday cake, and gifts.
Wearing a black dress with pink roses, white tights, and sparkling pink shoes, a spout of straight-black hair pouring out of a ponytail on top of her head, 1-year-old Ava appeared unfazed by the crowd and cameras, content to smile and clap.
During a major snowstorm on the morning of Jan. 27, 2011, Kerry, a 34-year old mother of two, and 26 weeks pregnant with Ava, collapsed at her Winchester home.
A blood clot was later found on her lung. Transported by ambulance, Kerry went into cardiac arrest soon after arriving at the hospital. As staff worked feverishly, performing CPR to keep Kerry and her unborn baby alive, the decision was made to do a caesarean section in the emergency room.
“This is what we train for,’’ said Dr. Teri Ciccone, the lead physician in Winchester’s emergency room that day. “For me, this [today] was one of my most emotional experiences - in a positive way - I’ve ever had in my 11 years in emergency medicine.’’
Ciccone quickly assembled a team, including Dr. Marie Lemonnier, who performed the emergency C-section, and doctors Elizabeth Doherty and Karen McAlmon, neonatologists in Winchester’s Special Care Nursery. Once stabilized, Ava - born at 7:45 a.m. weighing only 2.2 pounds - was sent to the neonatal intensive-care unit at Children’s Hospital Boston.
Simultaneously, a medical team kept Kerry alive, administering life-saving medication and continuing CPR. Once stabilized, Kerry was transferred to Lahey Clinic in Burlington, where she underwent open-heart surgery. Later, she went to Massachusetts General Hospital for further care.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime happening,’’ said Doherty. “There was a lot of coordination.’’
Expressing heartfelt thanks on behalf of her entire family, Kerry told her daughter, “Don’t eat too much cake, little girl. We start swim lessons next week.’’
Doherty had written a short poem, recapping the miracle:
“Beautiful baby turning 1, remember such wintry morning you had just begun.
I came to your birth while on the run, for even then you were only 1 - 1 kilogram!
But look at you now, as bright as can be, You’ve won the hearts of many, sweet baby we see . . .”
Kathy Shiels Tully can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.