Patient Care

Preemie’s Spirit Captures the Hearts of Others

May. 13, 2016

Born six weeks early with a litany of medical concerns, doctors hadn’t seen a case like Kinley Severson’s in quite some time.

Her heart was on the wrong side of her body. She was missing her pulmonary artery, and only had one lung. And the largest issue of all was that she was suffering from esophageal atresia, which means that her esophagus did not connect with her stomach. Due to suffering from these medical anomalies, she was in the neonatal intensive care unit for over six months.

For the first months of Kinley’s life, Christopher Gitzelmann, M.D., a pediatric surgeon at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, performed procedures to ease her top and bottom portions closer together. When she was just over five months old, Gitzelmann performed a four-and-a-half-hour surgery to connect Kinley’s esophagus to her stomach.

“Obviously, a major surgery on an infant with one lung is concerning to begin with,” said Kinley’s mother, Helen, who lives in Honeoye Falls. “Her right cavity filled up with fluid and it collapsed her lung.”Kinley also endured a number of other VACTERL association (vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, esophageal atresia, renal abnormalities, and limb abnormalities) birth defects, several of which required additional surgeries and treatment. But she was ultimately able to pull through, and just over seven months after her birth, she was finally discharged from the hospital.

Kinley, now 18 months old, will be one of five children honored at the Golisano Children’s Hospital’s Miracle Luncheon on May 20.  The luncheon, which celebrates young patients who have overcome significant medical challenges, takes place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.