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June’s Journey with Tracheoesophageal Fistula

April 25, 2017

When Erin Hollenkamp went in for her first ultrasound nearly three years ago, she got the exciting, yet very shocking news that she was pregnant with twins. However, each baby was lagging more than a week behind “normal development,” which raised concerns. At week 12 of her pregnancy, Erin and her husband Jason received the devastating news that “Baby B” had been lost. At week 26, after several failed ultrasounds on “Baby A” due to the inability to see the baby’s stomach, Erin received a level two ultrasound. It was then she learned the baby most likely had tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) or an abnormal connection between the esophagus and trachea. In the midst of all the chaotic news, Erin learned she was expecting a baby girl.

June Kelley Hollenkamp was born on July 23, 2015 at Children’s Hospital Illinois in Peoria. June was immediately taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for observation - something that Erin and her husband had planned prior to June’s birth with their medical team. During June’s time in the NICU, more problems arose. June was found to be missing a set of ribs. In addition, she also had a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of her heart, and it was discovered her kidneys would need to be closely monitored due to a slight blockage in her ureter (the passage leading from her kidneys to her bladder). What should have been six weeks in the NICU quickly turned into four months.

Five surgeries and many hospital visits later, June still wasn’t seeing the progress desired. Come March 2016, baby June continued to have trouble breathing and holding down foods, and was losing weight at a rapid rate.

Erin’s pediatrician referred them to Dr. Erin Rowell, a pediatric surgeon at Lurie Children’s for further evaluation and care. In December of 2016, Dr. Rowell determined that the constant vomiting indicated June would need another fundoplication surgery, a procedure to re-stitch her stomach up around her esophagus.

June underwent the surgery successfully on March 9, 2017 with Dr. Rowell. June’s mom shares, “June’s stomach was on the smaller side but not the smallest stomach she had seen. She was able to pull the stomach up around her esophagus to tighten the opening so that it would be harder for June to vomit. She also moved the interior placement of June’s gastrostomy (G) tube.”

On March 22, 2017, June was finally released from the hospital with minor precautions but major hope for the future. Although June still suffers from mild vomiting, Erin says her daughter is gaining weight and smiling unlike ever before. “We know that there is still some work to be done and we have a long road ahead of us, but we are hopeful,” explains Erin. “We can’t thank Lurie Children’s enough for allowing June to still see the positives in every day.”

You can read all about June’s inspiring story on the blog June’s Journey


Treatment for Fetal Tracheoesophageal Fistula (TEF)

If fetal TEF is diagnosed before birth, the staff in The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health counsels the parents and prepares them for what to expect when their baby is born. Plans are made to assure that the baby is delivered in a hospital that has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and that a neonatologist is present at the delivery. To learn more, visit The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health at Lurie Children’s.