Newborn treated for rare condition through children`s hospital

Over the past two days, patients and families of Palmetto Health Children's Hospital have been sharing their stories of hope for the annual B106.7 Radiothon.

Many of the services at the hospital in Columbia are made possible by community support, and many of these families say their children wouldn't be alive without the hospital.

One of those families is the Rhodes family. Like most parents-to-be, Caroline and Thomas Rhodes had prepared diligently for their first child. "He was born on March 28th, 2012," said Caroline Rhodes. "It was a perfectly normal deliver, everything was great."

Born on a Wednesday, Lee Rhodes went home on Friday. "He was jaundice, so we did have to put him in a Bilibed," said Caroline. But that would soon be the least of the Rhodes' worries.

"He wouldn't wake up to eat," said Caroline.  "I know most babies-  they sleep a whole lot. It is sometimes hard to feed them, but he was above and beyond ... he was just so lethargic and cold."

The Rhodes called an emergency nurse and took lee's temperature. At 92 degrees, they knew they didn't have much time. "She told us to come straight to the children's hospital ER," said Caroline. "It was kind of an out-of-body experience, it happened so fast," added Thomas.

Doctors saw Lee immediately. "Lee's blood sugar was so low when he first came in that often there can be brain damage, seizures and that sort of thing," said Dr. Elizabeth Mack, a pediatric intensivist at Palmetto Health Children's. Dr. Mack says while they worked to keep his blood sugar regulated, they also zeroed in on what was wrong.

"The condition that Lee has is quite rare," said Dr. Mack, describing what's known as Congenital Hyperinsulinism.  "It's sort of the opposite of diabetes. People with diabetes, especially the type one that happens in children, do not have any insulin.  [Lee] produces extra insulin," added Dr. Mack.

The cause of the disease is sometimes genetic but often unknown.  Doctors say it's treated with medications, but often leads to surgery if children do not take to the medication in more than a week. After Lee wasn't responding to meds, doctors sent him to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (a specialty hospital for Congenital Hyperinsulinism).  "Surgery was the most probable option and that's scary," said Thomas.

Shortly after they arrived in Philadelphia, Lee's body started responding to the meds. Three days later, the Rhodes came home.

"It does not appear that he'll need surgery in the future," said Dr. Mack. 'Whether he'll need medicine for the rest of his life, we don't know that yet."

However, doctors say as Lee grows, he's requiring less medication. The Rhodes still monitor his blood sugar daily, but say he acts like your average one year-old and is almost walking.

"If it wasn't for children's hospital being so close and having such a great team of physicians and support staff and nurses, Lee wouldn't be here," said Thomas. "Thomas and I are just so thankful," added Caroline. "They saved his life."

To donate to the Palmetto Health Foundation through the B106.7 Radiothon, call (803) 434-3000 or (866) 434-B106 through Tuesday night at 7pm.

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