An eight-month old baby boy who was born ‘without an intestine’ has beaten the odds and is going home after doctors gave him less than a one percent chance at survival.
When little Rowan was born three months early, his parents Daniel Breyts and Jessica Novac, were told to prepare for their goodbyes soon.
Doctors told the couple from Wheatfield, Indiana, that their son had a disease that left him without a viable intestine – meaning he wouldn’t be able to eat or grow and would inevitably die.
But a second opinion determined the Rowan still had enough of a healthy bowel left and – after seven months of surgeries and treatments – he was declared healthy enough to go home.
Rowan Breyts, eight months, was born three months early in April 2018 in Wheatfield, Indiana, weighing one pound and six ounces. Pictured: Rowan with his parents Daniel Breyts and Jessica Novac
Just a few days later, doctors diagnosed Rowan (left and right at four months old) with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC is a disease in which bacteria can cause a perforation in the intestines, causing waste to leak into the abdomen and lead to infection and death
Rowan was born in April – three months before his due date – weighing one pound and six ounces.
Just a few days later, doctors delivered a devastating diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC)
NEC is a serious disease that affects the intestines of babies and is most common in premature infants.
The cause remains unclear, but doctors believe intestinal tissues may be weakened from a lack of oxygen and blood flow.
Bacteria gets into the intestinal wall, which can eventually cause a perforation of the intestines.
The intestines can no longer hold waste so bacteria and stool can leak into the abdomen which causes infection and even death.
According to Stanford Health, NEC occurs in up to five percent of babies in newborn intensive care units.
Onset of the disease typically occurs in the first two weeks of life and, among those diagnosed, about 25 percent die.
Doctors said he would never be able to eat or grow and that he was too small for a transplant. It meant Rowan would eventually die. Pictured: Novac with Rowan
After two months, Breyts and Novac contacted Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis in June for a second opinion. Pictured: Rowan
Doctors agreed to take on his case and had Rowan transported to the hospital by helicopter on June 2. Just four days later, he was taken into surgery. Pictured: Rowan at seven months old
Treatment primarily consists of stopping formula feedings or breast feedings to give the bowel time to rest.
Babies are given IV fluids, a tube to removed excess fluid from the stomach and antibiotics to fight infection.
In Rowan’s case, it’s unclear what assistance he had aside from IV fluids and a ventilator.
If the bowel is perforated, emergency surgery is needed to resect – or cut away – the dead portion.
Doctors told Breyts and Novac that Rowan had a less than one percent chance of survival.
‘Without a small intestine, he could never eat. He would never grow. He was too small to hope for a transplant. It was a death sentence,’ Breyts told Fox News of the diagnosis.
‘We kissed him and cried, telling him how much we loved him and wished there was something we could do.’
For two months, the couple waited for Rowan to pass away. But he continued to improve.
‘Jess and I spoke at length and decided that he wasn’t giving up…neither would we,’ Breyts said.
Breyts and Novac contacted Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis in June for a second opinion.
Doctors agreed to take on his case and had Rowan transported to the hospital by helicopter on June 2. Just four days later, he was taken into surgery.
Doctors at Riley Hospital told Rowan’s parents that he still had viable bowel left. After 209 days, the couple was given permission to take Rowan (left and right) home
Rowan now weighs 13 pounds and nine ounces. Breyts and Novac say they consider him to be ‘ a miracle’. Pictured: Rowan with Breyts
‘[A doctor] told me they saw a lot of pink viable intestine, which was the exact opposite of what we had been told,’ Breyts told Fox59.
‘She didn’t understand why I was so dumbfounded by what she had just said to me. I was like: “You don’t understand. The other hospital told us there wasn’t any left”.’
According to a Facebook post from Novac at the time, surgeons removed a small section of non-viable bowel and some abscesses.
In August, Novac posted that Rowan had 71 centimeters of healthy bowel left and – although normal for infants is between 100 and 120 – doctors told the couple that their son would not need a transplant or have short bowel syndrome.
After 209 days in the NICU at Riley Hospital for Children, now weighing 13 pounds and nine ounces, Rowan was finally able to go home.
December is his first month home and the couple is excited that he’ll be with them for Christmas.
‘Seeing him myself and knowing where he came from as far as how small he was and the issues that he had, in my heart he is a miracle,’ Breyts told Fox 59. ‘He’s an honest to God miracle.’
The couple has set up a Paypal account to help cover Rowan’s future medical bills.