Macklyn’s Story: Lurie Children’s Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Pediatric Neurocritical Program Optimizes Outcome After Bacterial Meningitis

September 17, 2019

When Angela and Jake welcomed their daughter into the world at 36 weeks, they quickly found that their joy was overshadowed with concern for her health. While hospitalized at her local neonatal intensive care unit, Macklyn began having seizures. An abnormal heart reading, plus depressed activity in her brain and blood collecting in her lungs, signaled to doctors that she had to be rushed to a major pediatric medical center.

Once at Lurie Children’s, doctors diagnosed Macklyn with a bacterial infection that needed close monitoring. Doctors ordered a spinal tap, which confirmed she had bacterial meningitis, a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition in infants that causes inflammation of the three thin layers of tissue, known as meninges, which cover the brain and spinal cord. Bacterial meningitis may have multiple complications including death, deafness, stroke and epilepsy.

“We had no real knowledge or experience with meningitis,” Jake says. “As much as you want to stay away from looking stuff up, I wanted to know as much as I could for Macklyn. Through those first few days, everything was really scary because she was very sick.”

At Lurie Children’s, the Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee Pediatric Neurocritical Care team consisting of devoted neurologists, critical care physicians and nurse practitioners cared for Macklyn to treat the complications associated to meningitis and control her seizures to prevent brain damage under the leadership of pediatric neurologist Andrea C. Pardo, MD.

“Macklyn was very sick when she got here,” Dr. Pardo says. “Our goal was to protect her brain to minimize the effects of the infection and get the best possible outcomes for her. We collaborated with the NICU team to treat the seizures with medication, while monitoring her brain activity as well as providing feedback on how to best keep her levels of sodium, glucose and blood pressure and temperature in the optimal range to protect her brain.” For the next six weeks, Macklyn received antibacterial and anti-seizure medications that successfully cleared the infection and stopped the seizures, respectively.

Throughout Macklyn’s time at Lurie Children’s, her team of providers kept in close contact with Jake and Angela. “We had open lines of communication with Macklyn’s family,” Dr. Pardo says. “From their standpoint, we had a level of trust that our team would be very open with information and we would work together to help her achieve the best outcomes.”

Once at home with her parents and older sister, Macklyn continued to follow up with Dr. Pardo. Macklyn has been thriving developmentally. Her family rejoiced when EEG tests later confirmed Macklyn had low risk for seizure recurrence and was able to be weaned off anticonvulsants

Her parents continue to be grateful for the nurses and physicians who cared for Macklyn, including Dr. Pardo. “The first day we were down at Lurie Children’s, it was good to see Dr. Pardo because she has a lot of info for us. We understood the answer was always, ‘Macklyn’s going to tell us what she needs and how she’s doing. Luckily, Macklyn always told us, ‘I’m getting better.’”

Today, Macklyn is a healthy one-year-old who has remained seizure-free and in overall good health as she hits her major developmental milestones on time.

Learn more about the Ruth D. Ken M. Davee Pediatric Neurocritical Care Program.