Kelly’s three month pregnancy scan revealed that baby Ava had gastroschisis, an abdominal wall defect leading the intestines to develop on the outside of the body. Kelly reflects on her and her partner Daniel’s time at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). 

In 2012, Kelly and Daniel were delighted to find out that they were to become parents. However, Kelly’s three month scan revealed that the baby’s intestines were on the outside of the body, a condition seen in one in 3000 newborns each year. 

An early birth

It was arranged that Kelly would have her baby at University College Hospital (UCH), around the corner from GOSH, so that her baby could be transferred straight after birth.

“I knew I would have the baby early” says Kelly, “but at 35 weeks, they said she wasn’t growing fast enough.” Ava’s bowels had dilated and it was decided that she should be delivered sooner than expected, so Kelly went in to be induced that day.

Baby Ava was born by normal delivery, weighing less than 4lb. Dad Daniel was at the birth: “It was hard to see but I was just glad she was okay.”

Immediate surgery

Ava’s intestines were now exposed to the air so an operation needed to happen within hours. While Kelly waited to be discharged, Daniel went ahead to GOSH where Joe Curry’s surgical team started the delicate process of putting Ava’s intestines back inside her abdomen.

Ava’s case was complicated, so this couldn’t be done all at once. “They could only push part of it back at first, then they put the rest in a silo bag to protect it and she was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU),” says Kelly. Day by day, doctors eased more of the intestines back. “It’s incredible how they do it,” says Daniel.

After two weeks, Ava was well enough to be moved from NICU to Squirrel Ward where she continued to be monitored. “The care was amazing” says Kelly, “the staff on Squirrel Ward were brilliant.”

Going home

Finally, after seven weeks at GOSH and two more at her local hospital, Ava could go home.

“I was scared but we were over the moon,” says Kelly. “She’s doing really well and hopefully she’ll be able to lead a normal life. I still to this day look at her and think, I don’t know how they did it.”

Find out about the new surgery centre, part of our redevelopment programme, and listen to Joe Curry discussing the difference the centre will make for patients like Ava.