Parents Bethar Meyer and Chad Martin knew true joy when they got to take their baby, Adrianne Rose Martin, home to Poplar Bluff for the first time. Adrianne made the journey home after spending the first seven weeks of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.
Adrianne was delivered by Dr. Donald R. Jones III on November 23, 2010 at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center. Her nurses quickly noticed that her palate-the roof of her mouth-and jaw were not quite normal. One nurse felt for what would later be diagnosed as a cleft palate while another nurse noticed that her jaw was small and recessed into her face.
Breathing was extremely difficult for Adrianne, especially when she was on her back. After her breathing did not improve Dr. Joseph Fernando, also of Poplar Regional Medical Center, quickly referred Adrianne to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and within a short time she was in a helicopter and on her way to St. Louis. Bethar was released from the hospital shortly thereafter so she and Chad could join their only daughter in St. Louis for what would prove to be a conquering, and bumpy, journey home.
Once at SSM Cardinal Glennon, Adrianne’s diagnoses were confirmed. She did in fact have a cleft palate and also suffered from a fairly rare condition called Pierre Robin Sequence, in which the jaw is much smaller than normal and is dramatically recessed into the face. In addition to her jaw being tinier than that of an average newborn, Adrianne’s tongue was also malformed. Instead of having ample room in the bottom basin of the mouth it was forced backward into her throat as her smaller-than-normal-jaw gave it little room to rest. These combined conditions, her cleft palate, recessed jaw, and falling tongue, were the source of her difficulty breathing.
Dr. Alexander Lin, a pediatric plastic surgeon at Cardinal Glennon and Director of the St. Louis Cleft-Craniofacial Center, along with Dr. John Stith, an ENT specialist, and Dr. Gary Albers of Pulmonary Medicine, diagnosed and mapped out Adrianne’s treatment plan to ensure that all of her needs were met and that she would get the most comprehensive and least invasive treatment possible.
Since Adrianne shows no signs of genetic deficiencies or neurological abnormalities Dr. Lin, along with the other specialists, thought it best to perform a procedure called a lip-tongue fusion which involved attaching Adrianne’s tongue to the inner part of her lower lip. This procedure allows Adrianne to remain breathing on her own and avoids a tracheotomy which would be much more invasive and would require an in-home nurse for specialized care. The lip-tongue fusion, performed in late December, will help Adrianne remain independent of breathing machines while her jaw has a chance to grow and catch up to the rest of her body.
After a couple of weeks Adrianne, was finally released to go home. Bethar, a family practice nurse at the Kneibert Clinic, talks about learning to take care of Adrianne, a crucial step before being able to go home.
“I’m definitely interested in pediatrics, but when it’s a tiny baby, and your own baby, it’s really different. I felt like I was doing it for the first time all over again,” Bethar says about learning to put in Adrianne’s feeding tube. She has previously performed the procedure on adults but was getting first hand instruction on helping care for her own, tiny daughter.
Adrianne’s medical journey is not quite over; she will journey back to St. Louis for follow-up visits with Dr. Lin and, after one year, will have her cleft palate repaired. There is also a possibility of another procedure to fix her recessed jaw. But for now, the doctors are optimistic, and Adrianne is doing great.
St. Louis Cleft-Craniofacial Center at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center