Home Away From Home
For the last year, Jennifer and Jacob Nichols have traveled back and forth from their home in Millstadt, Ill., to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center to be with their daughter and watch her grow into a strong and healthy baby. And on Oct. 15, they were especially proud as Morgan celebrated her first birthday, surrounded by family, friends and hospital staff.
“The nurses at Cardinal Glennon have become our extended family,” said Jennifer Nichols. “We really wish we could take some of them home with us.”
Morgan was born 15 weeks early last October at SSM St. Mary’s Health Center in St. Louis, and weighed just 1 pound, 14 ounces. She was quickly transferred to Cardinal Glennon for a high-risk heart surgery. Jennifer and Jacob Nichols were told that the odds of her survival were minimal. However, Morgan proved her determination to live.
The Nichols went home after a successful surgery performed by pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon Andrew Fiore, MD. Since then, Morgan was readmitted to Cardinal Glennon’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) three times due to respiratory distress.
Growing Stronger Every Day
Morgan's lungs were significantly underdeveloped at birth, and she became very sick with pneumonia. She received a trach in July to help her breathe easier, and although steroids stopped inflammation in her lungs, the drugs also prevented her from growing.
“The trach keeps her from having to burn additional calories breathing on her own so that she can grow,” said Jennifer Nichols. “Since she got the trach and has been taken off steroids, Morgan has grown over 4 inches. And she just keeps growing!”
Beating Medical Odds
Many people around Morgan have watched her beat the odds and successfully overcome medical difficulties.
“You can see her determination and will to live,” said Mary Hope, RN, one of Morgan’s nurses for the last several months. “This is one of her greatest personality features.”
Jennifer Nichols is ready to take her daughter home, and is waiting for the availability of home care nurses to transition Morgan’s care from the hospital.
The medical staff at Cardinal Glennon are hopeful that by next year at this time, Morgan's lungs will be fully developed and the trach will be removed so that she can play and talk just like any normal 2 year old.
“I can remember one time months back when I was having a really bad day,” said Jennifer Nichols. “Then I walked in and saw Morgan, smiling ear to ear, without a care in the world. She has changed my life completely and truly is my miracle. I know she is going to make her mark on this earth.”