WESTVILLE – One local family is starting the new year expressing gratitude to their community for support they received while their infant daughter was fighting for her life.
Klaire Shull was just three months old when she began having difficulty breathing on August 9, 2017. Her parents, Kyle and Amanda Shull, took her to Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Alabama, where she was diagnosed with bronchiolitis and signs of pneumonia.
Further testing showed Klaire needed to be transported to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Pensacola.
After seven attempts to intubate Klaire for transport, she was carried by ambulance to Pensacola.
Doctors in Pensacola diagnosed her with adeno and rhino viruses - both are common colds - which were causing swelling in her airway.
After spending two weeks in Pensacola, Klaire and her parents were flown to Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville because the treatment she needed could not be done at Sacred Heart.
On August 25, Klaire’s CO2 level elevated, causing her to have an emergency surgery in her hospital room.
Klaire was placed on Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) life support system to help support her heart and lungs.
The Shulls were told the next 60-90 minutes of their daughter's life was the most crucial.
"Being told that short amount of time is where your child’s life hangs in the balance is something no parent wants to hear," said Amanda Shull.
More tests followed and found Klaire was born with Congenital Tracheal Stenosis, a narrow airway, which would require major surgery to repair.
On September 5, Klaire underwent an open chest surgery called Slide Tracheaplasty to widen her trachea. Both her diagnosis and procedure are very rare, happening in only three percent of the population.
While on ECMO, Klaire had three blood clots form. Two were clipped and taken out, and the third dissipated on its own.
During the course of her stay in the hospital, Klaire also went into cardiac arrest three times. Each time doctors were able to bring her back.
Baby Klaire was able to come off the ECMO machine on September 8. She was extubated and taken off of the ventilator on September 18. Finally on September 23, she was taken off oxygen completely.
The rest of the Shull family's stay at the hospital focused on Klaire being able to eat from her bottle and being weaned off the 16 medicines she was on during her stay.
After 85 days of hospitalization, Klaire came home with her family on November 1. She is a thriving seven month old whose smile lights up the room.
Klaire will have to go back for checkups every six months for the foreseeable future. Her prognosis at this point is very good, doctors expect her to make a full recovery.
The Shulls say they never gave up their faith and were blown away by the support they received from their community and strangers alike.
"Throughout this whole journey, we never lost faith or hope and knew that God was with her the whole time. The support from our community and surrounding areas has been an absolute blessing," said Amanda Shull. "Everything from the love donations, prayer cloths, prayer quilts from local churches, fundraisers such as t-shirt sale, fish fry, yard sale, and cake auctions, the love of our community really showed up and showed out for our family in this time of need."
Amanda Shull expressed her family’s gratitude for all of the help and support given during such a difficult time.
"We are forever grateful to live in such a loving community that provided us with this help," said Shull. "To our family, friends, Hickory Hill Baptist Church family, and whole community, we love you all and appreciate all the love, support, and prayers for our family, especially for our sweet Klaire in this time of need."