Ariah - Apple Pick of the Month
Ariah Virginia Fernandez lives in Abilene, Texas and was born in Fort Worth at Harris hospital on the morning of Halloween 2020 at 12:08 a.m. at 35 weeks and 5 days. When she was 20 weeks old her parents found out that she has what is called CPAM: Congenital Pulmonary Airway Malformation. It's where a cyst grows on the lung, and it can be fluid filled or solid and causes non-working lung tissue. Ariah's was fluid filled and kept growing so as soon as she was born, she was intubated and rolled over to the NICU at Cook Children's Hospital.
On day 2 of life Ariah had her first big surgery and that was to remove the top upper left lobe of her lung that had the cyst. Originally the plan was to remove and heal and go home but she also developed pulmonary hypertension and that caused us to have a roller coaster ride throughout our NICU stay. On 3 occasions we were asked to make a decision on whether or not to continue to let her fight because the doctors were having trouble figuring out what to do next.
Throughout her fight she's battled klebsiella pneumonia and sepsis pneumonia and at 4 months old she had a second huge surgery. This was an open chest surgery to remove what was left of her left lung because it created collateral vessels going into the part of her heart that pumps blood out of the body, causing high levels of pulmonary hypertension. During this surgery that lasted almost 16 hours, Ariah coded a couple of times and had to be put on bypass machine during surgery. When she was stable enough to go to CICU she had to be put on an ECMO machine. Her parents were told that she had 10 days to live on it and after those 10 days if there was no improvement, they would have to take it off. But Ariah fought alongside her parents and only had to be on the ECMO for 5 days and she fought to get better.
At 6 months old after many failed extubation trials they decided to give Ariah a trach and a g-button so that she could have the best quality of life! Her parents were told she may not be able to do a couple of things and that they wouldn't get to hear her cry or laugh but today is a different story thanks to Ariah's doctors, nurses, surgeons, and parents. She is healthy and striving and doing the exact things they said she couldn't! She makes sure her parents can hear what she has to say as well and laughs along with them out loud even though she has a cuffed trach!
Ariah's favorite things since being home are waking up to both of her parents and playing with them and being able to play back! She can grasp things now to put them in her mouth and chew. She's still not eating food by mouth, but she'll get there. She's also able to kick and move her arms all at the same time. She voluntarily recognizes her parents and gives strangers a strange look when they first meet.
Her favorite movie of all time is Moana, she can watch it back-to-back a million times and still laugh like it was her first time watching it! She loves her animals farm show on YouTube, teaching colors and shapes and numbers. She also loves pulling off her mom's glasses and laughing. She also adores her dada and loves to pull his beard and laugh at that too. He calls her his princess!