Baby goes home after 8 month ordeal

April 8, 2008 4:41:18 PM PDT
It was quite a celebration today as baby Natalie left Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and headed home for the first time. Jackie Vilches' infant daughter, Natalie, left the hospital this afternoon, after spending the first 8 months of her life there.

Natalie was born premature, weighing only 2 pounds, 6 ounces.

One week after her birth, she developed a life-threatening illness called Necrotizing Enterocolitis. It's a condition in which part of the tissue in the intestines is destroyed.

"It can be a very severe infection. It mostly affects premature infants, the most vulnerable of our patients," said Dr. Peter Mattei.

Dr. Mattei performed three abdominal surgeries on Natalie, during which she lost 90 percent of her small bowels.

Natalie's mother says Dr. Mattei saved her daughter's life.

The decision to allow her daughter to undergo surgery was difficult, but in the end she knew what she had to do.

"I told him to fight for my daughter, fight for her life. I told him to not give up on my daughter," said Jackie.

A nurse will help Jackie care for little Natalie, along with big sister, Amanda.

At ten pounds, two ounces, she has come a long way since her first days in her father's arms.

Doctors aren't really sure why some preemies contract Necrotizing Enterocolitis and others do not. They don't know what causes the disease, but in this case they were able to successfully fight it.

Little Natalie's prognosis is very good.