A family's emotional ride on day of daughter's birth - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

A family's emotional ride on day of daughter's birth

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Normally, there is a lot to celebrate on the day a baby is born. For one Austin family, it was an emotional roller coaster the day they welcomed their little girl into the world.

"You couldn't have asked for a better pregnancy and delivery," explained Martha Hightower. She and her husband Ben were so excited.

The day would prove to be a difficult one for their daughter Camille. A nurse noticed she was having trouble breathing. Their parental instincts kicked in, and her parents knew something was wrong.

"It went from perfect child birth to uncertainty to even more uncertainty to her being on a ventilator for more than a week," Ben Hightower recalled.

"You get that sinking feeling when they first diagnosed the cleft palate," Martha said.

Camille was diagnosed just five hours into her life with Pierre Robins Sequence. It's a condition characterized by unusually small jaw which can affect breathing, sleeping and feeding.

Dr. Raymond Harshbarger, a pediatric craniofacial surgeon, joined Camille's medical team when she was just four days old. She would need surgery to help her breathe and sleep.

"The root of the problem is this small jaw with the tongue being set back so the concept is to lengthen the jaw," said Dr. Harshbarger and that's exactly what he did using a procedure called distraction.

After the operation Camille spent a week on a ventilator so Dr. Harshbarger could turn two metal rods extending from her jaw allowing it to grow. A few weeks later, Camille underwent the same sleep study tests as she did before the surgery and the difference was dramatic.

At seven months, Camille is a healthy, happy baby and sleeps through the night. "Look at her. She is human sunshine," said her Mom.

"I think she is looking good," said Dr. Harshbarger who is pleased with her progress.

Camille has two scars along her jaw line that will fade with time, but will always remind Martha and Ben how precious life is.

"It was to teach Mommy and Daddy a lesson about life and how to slow down and appreciate everything you have if you can put a positive spin on something like this," said Martha about what she will one day tell Camille about her first year.


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