The Long Journey Home

At 25 weeks pregnant, Chanda Brashears, 34, was considered high-risk because of a weakened cervix. After getting approval from her physicians, Chanda and her husband, Brad, flew to Amarillo for Christmas — and got an unexpected surprise.

“I was opening presents on Dec. 26 and my water broke,” Chanda says. “I knew we had a serious problem.”

A Bumpy Ride to Dallas

Immediately put on bed rest at a local hospital in Amarillo, Chanda was able to delay labor, but only by two weeks. Baby Emory came into the world at 28 weeks and 3 days gestation, weighing only 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

“We were comfortable staying in Amarillo until Emory was diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL,” Chanda says. “We wanted to get her transferred to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to access the pediatric neurologists, radiologists and developmental specialists who weren’t available in Amarillo.”

Within minutes of the Brashears’ phone call to Texas Health Dallas on Friday, transport arrangements were being made to bring Emory to Dallas the following Monday morning via CareFlite. However, the plane had mechanical issues and could not return to Dallas after arriving in Amarillo. With Brad and Chanda already on their own commercial flight to Dallas, baby Emory was transported via ambulance.

What is PVL?

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a brain injury that affects infants and newborns. Fluid-filled areas of the brain called ventricles die, leaving “holes” of dead tissue within the brain. One of the major causes of PVL is changes in blood flow around the ventricles of the brain.

PVL is much more common in premature infants than full-term babies. There is no treatment for PVL, and it can lead to nervous system and developmental problems in the first few years of life. Babies with PVL need to be monitored by a developmental physician to keep track of any delays or problems resulting from PVL.

Special Baby, Special Care

After arriving in Dallas, Emory quickly graduated from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) to the Special Care Nursery. For Chanda, the best part of Emory’s care was getting to bond with her baby — just like other new mothers do with their new babies.

“The Special Care Nursery was more beneficial than you can begin to imagine,” Chanda says. “I was able to breastfeed and begin to bond with Emory, and it was huge to have that time and intimacy without having to share space with other strangers and babies. It made all the difference in the world.”

After five weeks, Emory was released from the hospital and continues to grow and thrive, in large part thanks to the care she got at Texas Health Dallas.

“Emory is doing well,” Chanda says. “She’s sleeping late, cooing and smiling. She’s our miracle baby.”

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