‘Send Me to Valley Children’s’

Both of Darsy Caballero’s two children receive complex care for the same birth defect

Pregnant with her first child, the last thing Darsy Caballero imagined is that her baby girl would be born with a serious defect.

“I heard ‘gastroschisis’ and thought, ‘What is that?’” Darsy recalled when her OB in Madera told her the unexpected news.

Darsy and her husband, Manuel Caballero, soon found out gastroschisis is a rare opening in the abdominal wall that allows the intestines and sometimes other organs to protrude outside a baby’s belly. The abdominal wall fails to close properly during fetal development, leaving a hole.

Darsy’s OB referred her to Valley Children’s Maternal Fetal Center. As a former Valley Children’s pediatric nephrology patient, Darsy felt thankful she could receive care for her high-risk pregnancy and baby at Valley Children’s as well.

“I was very fearful, but they explained everything well and put me at ease,” Darsy said.

‘Dark part of the forest’

“When you find out you're pregnant, that's a joyful moment for most people,” said Dr. Michael Allshouse, medical director, pediatric surgery and trauma. “And then when you find out there's something wrong with your baby and you don't know much about it, you're in the dark part of the forest, and it's always scary there.”

“Even though this may be the mom’s first time walking that dark path, we’ve done it many times,” agreed Dr. Beni Adeniji, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. “A diagnosis is not necessarily the end of it. Fortunately in 2017, there is a lot we can do if we know what to anticipate and plan for.”

Preparation for the Caballeros, for example, included meeting the Valley Children’s pediatric surgeon who would perform their newborn’s lifesaving surgery; touring the Hospital’s nationally ranked Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where their daughter would heal; and receiving accurate information about what to expect and the treatment.

“Sharlyn is 5 now,” Darsy said joyfully. “She's a beautiful little girl and doing well.”

Comprehensive team care

So when Darsy found out her son three years later would be born with the same complex condition, she had one thing to tell her OB: “Send me to Valley Children’s.”

“Gastroschisis can be unpredictable and result in various complications,” Dr. Allshouse said. “We have the comprehensive team it takes to handle these types of cases.”

Today, the Caballeros’ son, Rivaldo, is a healthy toddler. “He's always jumping up and down, running, with his little curly hair,” said Darsy, who is studying to become a registered nurse. “I owe a lot to Valley Children's.”