Never Giving Up

When complications at birth left Olivia Morales struggling to survive, her mother Gabby feared the worst. But after two months of gradually growing stronger in Valley Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the fragile infant turned a corner.

“I could finally holder her for the first time,” recalled Morales, becoming teary-eyed. “I had this fantastic team going above and beyond that involved me in everything. She couldn’t be in a better place.”

Valley Children’s main campus NICU is the highest level designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics and offers the most advanced care in the region. Equipped with experienced staff and cutting-edge technology, the unit has onsite access to pediatric medical and surgical specialists needed to provide treatment that babies – especially those under 3.3 pounds – may require. The NICU’s patient survival rate for these most fragile infants is about 96% compared to the national average of 85%.

For Olivia, difficulties during birth triggered a massive amount of blood loss, causing problems for her lungs, liver, heart and kidneys. The significant bleeding deprived Olivia of life-giving oxygen, resulting in her body shutting down first her kidneys, then her heart, and last her brain. All of Olivia’s organs responded to treatment except her kidneys, for which she continues to receive specialized care.

“This is the kind of case that made me want to become a doctor,” said Dr. Jeffrey Pietz, Valley Children’s chief of newborn medicine.

“My daughter wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Dr. Pietz,” said Morales, who lives in Shafter. “He never gave up.”