Her mother, Aliesha Smith, said: “The doctors didn’t think she would live and we were about to say our goodbyes.”
In California, a 2-year-old girl who spent the first two years of her life in the hospital is back home with her parents and younger brother.
Addy Smith returned home on April 5, after 848 days of treatment at two hospitals in San Diego.
On December 10, 2019, at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns in San Diego, a baby was born prematurely at 27 weeks and 4 days by cesarean section. During pregnancy, she was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction, which refers to a baby’s poor growth while in the mother’s womb.
At birth, Addy’s lungs were underdeveloped, but she was making good progress. To help her breathe, her ventilator was replaced with a continuous positive airway pressure machine. Three months after her birth, however, her health began to deteriorate. “The doctors did not believe she was going to live, and we were getting ready to say our final goodbyes,” her mother, Aliesha Smith, 35, told Good Morning America.
Aliesha and Chris worked on Addy for more than an hour to resuscitate her, but the team at Sharp Mary Birch told them that in order to give Addy a fighting chance, she would need to transfer to Rady Children’s Hospital.
Addy was admitted to Rady’s neonatal intensive care unit in March 2020, the same month the pandemic was declared a national emergency. After the hospital changed their protocols due to the pandemic, Alisha and Chris Smith moved into a friend’s recreational vehicle so they could split time with Addy.
“She was so critical, so critical, that we rented an RV from a friend. “So we parked on the street, and one of us would be up by Addy’s room when one of us was up there,” Aliesha explained, adding that Addy coded two more times in her first two days at Rady.
Addy spent over a year in the PICU under the care of Dr. Sandeep Khanna. The air exchange was difficult on her at times, and we had to give her heavy amounts of sedation to relax her, and sometimes even very heavy amounts of sedation did not work. “We were only able to get through it because we had to give her a paralyzing medication after heavy sedation,” he shared.
Addy was on a paralytic medicine for months, and the hospital staff had no idea what would work for her, but her family never gave up hope. As soon as all the care and observation began, her lungs began to grow. In February and March 2022, Addy had a few instances when she couldn’t breathe, but she never experienced bronchoconstriction or muscular spasms in her lungs.
Along with learning that their daughter was getting better, the Smiths also found out they were expecting another child. Last year, Addy’s parents, Aliesha and Chris Smith, welcomed their second child, a healthy boy named Aiden.
Having been able to join his parents and accompany his sister home two weeks ago, Aiden and his sister are already getting to know each other.
“When he laughs or screams, she cracks up, and it’s funny to see them interact,” Aliesha added. “We have taken them out for a walk together in the neighborhood, which has been so much fun.”
Although Addy still requires a ventilator at home for now, Aliesha and Chris are full of hope for their oldest child and want to share their hope with others.
“She’s done miracle after miracle for me,” Chris said. “We both can’t wait to see where she goes and what she can accomplish. She’s always going to blow us away and surprise us.”
“I hope we can give another family hope.”. We felt very alone during this whole thing, but if her story can give another family that may be going through something so similar… if we can give them that little peace, we know that it would have meant everything to us, too.”.