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A forever smile for baby born with cleft lip

Baby Oaklee is a joyful, angelic baby, who is set to receive his forever smile in a few weeks, after being born with a cleft lip.

His mom, Mallory Jean, says the road to this point has been rough, but that she is forever grateful for the lifesaving care she and her baby received at Oishei Children’s Hospital (Buffalo, NY). It is now her mission to tell her and baby Oaklee’s story to share the critical need for blood donation and to thank medical heroes, who work so tirelessly for others.

Mallory shared her story exclusively with Hope Rises. We thank her for her strength as a mother of three with one having medical complications.

At 22 weeks, my OBGYN heard an irregularity on the doppler. A cardiologist saw me right away, who then sent me to our local children’s hospital. My baby was diagnosed with an abnormally fast heart rhythm and we spent days in the hospital. At one point we were prepared to deliver him, and so tragically we were told the odds were against us, but in the blink of an eye my baby started regulating his heartbeat. What a miracle!

But, doctors made another scary discovery – I had placenta accretta, a more complicated form of previa which can be life-threatening to a mom and her unborn baby. I was considered “high risk” and went to Oishei Children’s for monitoring frequently until I delivered my son. I was put on heavy medication that had me in and out of the hospital with contractions due to dehydration.

Then, more than halfway through the pregnancy, we learned that Oaklee had a cleft lip. It wasn’t clear if his palate was involved either. It was decided I would deliver at 34-weeks because with my condition my placenta grew into my uterus and bladder. What was supposed to be a two-hour c-section turned in to seven hours! I needed 13-pints of blood! My husband spent the first three days of Oaklee’s life in the NICU without me as I worked to recover from the extensive surgery. Once I was finally able to be with my son, it took 19 days for Oaklee to get off his tube feed.

I am forever indebted to the three doctors at Oishei, who saved both my life and my baby’s life. Three days into his tiny, fragile life, I was able to hold Oaklee for the first time and all seemed right in the world. We are thrilled for his upcoming surgery on April 21, 2021 for his forever smile.

I hope to recognize and commend Dr Caliendo, Dr Nassir and Dr Szapanski for their work as true heroes in all of this. They ensured that I could sit here, and tell my story to Hope Rises and continue to tell it to encourage life-saving blood donation – a critical need everywhere.

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