The past two years have been an emotional rollercoaster for BJ and Mark Mazurkiewicz of Corinth, Miss. After battling infertility issues, the couple was thrilled to learn that they were pregnant with twins.
The pregnancy went smoothly for the first 25 weeks. BJ and Mark learned that they would have a boy and girl whom they would name Henry and Harper. At a routine doctor’s visit, an ultrasound showed that Harper was growing a much slower rate than Henry. BJ’s OB/GYN sent her to a specialist in Jackson, Tenn., where they received bad news.
Harper had a condition called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), which meant she wasn’t receiving proper amounts of oxygen, blood or nutrients through the umbilical cord. Henry had a congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation – a large mass that was covering his chest cavity.
BJ was referred to Le Bonheur Children’s Fetal Center, where Maternal Fetal Specialist Giancarlo Mari, MD, confirmed the diagnoses. BJ was admitted to The Regional Medical Center, in close proximity to Le Bonheur, for monitoring for the duration of her pregnancy.
“BJ and Mark wanted to do what was best for their babies, so without hesitation, they agreed to the immediate hospitalization for close surveillance of the babies. Babies like Harper with IUGR often have to be delivered prematurely when it is apparent they are getting into distress,” said Janet Tucker, MSN, RNC-OBI, program director of the Fetal Center.
Six weeks later, the twins were delivered on May 11, 2011, at 32 weeks via Cesarean section. Harper weighed slightly more than 2 pounds, and Henry weighed 3 pounds, 14 ounces.
Doctors told BJ and Mark it was likely that Henry would never take his first breath.
“If he didn’t die upon being born, it was certain he wouldn’t last very long,” said Mark. “They told us to expect a quiet delivery because neither one of them would have the lung capacity to cry.”
Henry and Harper were immediately moved to the MED’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Henry was placed on an oscillator to help him breathe. His tumor was larger than doctors had hoped, and his lung was underdeveloped as expected. He likely wouldn’t make it through the night, doctors said. Harper wasn’t digesting well, and with a distended stomach, doctors feared her intestinal tissue could die, which would be fatal.
But the twins pulled through and were transferred to Le Bonheur’s NICU. The surgical team examined Harper’s intestinal tissue and determined that, though she still needed to be monitored for growth, surgery wouldn’t be necessary. At 3 weeks old, Henry underwent surgery to remove the tennis-ball size tumor.
In surgery, doctors found that underneath Henry’s mass was a flattened right lung – a good sign to the caregivers who feared he wouldn’t have a right lung at all. Within one hour after surgery, the lung inflated, and his displaced heart and left lung moved right into place. For the next few weeks, Henry slowly recovered from his surgery in the NICU.
Harper’s condition continued to improve, too. When she reached 4 pounds in late June, she was able to go home.
“It was hard to leave Henry behind at the hospital. Between me, my mother and Mark, we worked out a system where neither twin was ever alone,” BJ said.
Henry eventually came off the ventilator. His lungs continued to grow and the tube, also helping him breathe, was removed from his throat. On Aug. 4, he was able to go home and join Harper.
“Our stay in Le Bonheur's NICU lasted several months, and we quickly found ourselves getting to know and love each and every staff member that we met,” BJ said. “Every day, my husband and I were treated as if we were part of the NICU team that was caring for our children. We will always have a special place in our hearts for Le Bonheur."