No one knew that Matty would be born 10 weeks early, and weighing only 1 pound, 12 ounces. But because of close monitoring at the Atlantic Fetal Diagnostic and Treatment Center (AFDTC), specialists did know of his health issues. And so everyone – including his parents – was ready.
“All the important testing and discussions happened before he was born,” says Gaines M. Mimms, MD, a specialist in neonatal (newborn) care. “It was still an emotional time for the family, but they had time to prepare.”
He’s definitely a miracle, according to parents Jen Cirillo and Victoria Browne, of Somerset County, NJ.
When Jennifer became pregnant at age 44, she spent the first two trimesters joyfully tracking the development of her long-awaited child. But at her 20-week appointment, her obstetrician expressed concern. The baby was not growing as he should.
“We walked in for a normal appointment, and walked out feeling so down,” she says. She was referred immediately to the Atlantic Fetal Diagnostic and Treatment Center (AFDTC). The medical team worked quickly, beginning extensive evaluation including genetic testing within hours. “Over the next weeks and months, our medical team became a great ray of light. They kept us informed and let us know our choices. They gave us hope.”
For babies like Matty, the team at Atlantic Health System collects detailed information from a combination of genetic testing and advanced ultrasound technology, with the goal of taking every measure to know how to best care for the baby at birth, as well as support the parents during a difficult journey.
“We work in context with a whole team of specialists to support the baby, mom and family.” Dr. Mimms says. Matty was followed by neonatologists, perinatologists, pediatric subspecialists, geneticist … and he wasn’t even born yet.
Beginning with Jen’s 20-week appointment, specialists with the AFDTC monitored her and little Matty intensely, with twice-weekly scans. This close watch saved his life.
“At my regular appointment at 30 weeks and six days, my doctor discovered Matty’s heart rate was dropping,” Jen says. “I needed an emergency C-section.”
Her medical team was ready and prepared for his birth.
Jen felt well-prepared for this next step, too. Staff had coached her about the meaning behind his genetic tests, the ups and downs that could come with a premature baby, and details about the range of care he might need.
She found support, as well, from her faith, and from the prayers of family and friends.
Just Steps Away
Immediately after Matty’s birth at Morristown Medical Center, he went straight to the NICU. In addition to the health challenges of being a preemie, he had other issues that required surgery during his 77-day stay. Matty will need more surgeries later, and his parents say they are at ease knowing the team at Goryeb Children’s Hospital is so close by.
Matty is now home and thriving. His parents are enjoying seeing his progress, his intense gazes and his welcomed smile.
“We just want to live life to the fullest with him,” Jen says. “And now, thanks to everyone at Goryeb, we feel we will be able to do that. They gave us the best care in the world.”