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Patients in the Spotlight: Evan Cavagnaro

There’s No Stopping Evan Cavagnaro

Evan CavagnaroOn their fifth wedding anniversary, Melissa and John Cavagnaro held their newborn baby boy Evan for the first time, and prepared to say goodbye. He had already been hospitalized for one month, following the passing of his twin brother, Ian who also had severe complications following birth.

“Evan was very sick, and we weren’t sure he would make it,” said Melissa, “But it’s still the best thing in the world to be able to hold your child.”

Born four months before their due date, Evan and Ian weighed just 1 pound, 4 ounces each, and needed intensive life support from Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Evan made it through his first month, but then he developed necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). The tissue in his intestines was dying, and chances were slim that he would survive.

The Cavagnaros decided to keep Evan on life support and “to wait it out and hope that Evan would pull through,” Melissa said. The NICU team provided comfort and support, often sitting with the family for hours at a time, and they continued to treat Evan to the best of their ability. Fortunately, NEC was resolved with a lot of monitoring and antibiotic therapy.

Evan was not out of the woods yet, though. An ultrasound revealed a large abscess on Evan’s liver. Little Evan needed to have the abscess drained. He was at risk of not making it through surgery, but he would most certainly die if nothing was done. The Cavagnaros decided to go through with the procedure, and doctors drained four ounces of fluid from the abscess, leaving him at the fragile weight of just 1 pound. Despite his weakened state, Evan started improving.

“He just started getting better and better,” Melissa said.

Evan left the NICU four months after he’d arrived, just after his original due date. He was breathing on his own and didn’t need the tracheotomy his family had prepared themselves for.

“When we left, it was like, ‘Well, what do I do now?’ I think every parent experiences that,” said Melissa. “The NICU team was very good at explaining what to expect…but it still felt strange going home.”

For a 23-weeker, Evan, now 6, is doing remarkably well. Cognitively, Evan is right where he should be for his age. He is doing well in school and has lots of friends. Evan does have cerebral palsy, which affects his growth and fine motor skills, and he has retinopathy of prematurity or limited vision due to his early birth, but his mom said he has adapted so well, that it’s hard to tell that he is different from any other child.

Evan started playing for the Sweden Challenger Baseball Team this past summer, which he really enjoyed. He also loves to ride his bike when at home in the driveway. The Cavagnaros love their son very much, and are amazed at the progress he continues to make.

“We send the NICU team updates at Christmas, and we’ve been back to the NICU Wall of Miracles to show Evan where he has been…we’re so thankful and blessed that he’s come so far.”