Crystal McCord of Dothan is all too familiar with kidney and urinary tract problems.
Her father, now in renal failure, spends days each week on kidney dialysis. As a child, Crystal herself suffered from frequent urinary tract problems.
But after the birth of their first daughter, Lilly-Rose, Crystal and her husband, Barry, breathed a sigh of relief. Their newborn appeared to be completely healthy.
Then, just days before her first birthday in May 2006, Lilly spiked a fever of 106 degrees. She was hospitalized in Dothan, where tests revealed that she had been born with a ureterocele (a ballooning of the ureter) and a urinary tract malformation called a “duplex collecting system" (she has two ureters on one kidney and instead of the third kidney she has extra tissue that produces urine on top of one kidney). These conditions had led to the infection and her subsequent high fever.
“A week passed with us not knowing what was going to happen,” Crystal remembers. “We spent a lot of time praying and rocking our little girl until they told us they believed surgery would help our baby.”
The McCords were told the best place for that surgery was in Birmingham at Children’s Hospital of Alabama, where Dr. David B. Joseph serves as chief of Pediatric Urology.
“Dr. Joseph answered all our questions, explained two ways the surgery could be done and went over tests with us on the computer,” says Crystal. “He was very confident in our child's treatment, and he was very reassuring. He worked so well with Lilly-Rose that I don't think she realized she was even there to receive medical care.”
The McCords also were impressed by the family-friendly atmosphere of Children’s Hospital, the only medical center in Alabama dedicated solely to caring for children.
“What you have created there is not at all depressing,” says Crystal. “From the wagon rides when you walk in the door to the toys for the patients to play with while they are waiting -- it helps parents to see their child smile and to find some normalcy in a day that is anything but normal for them.
“Your staff is caring and willing to do anything for you,” she adds. “When we thought we had no place to stay, one of your staff contacted the Ronald McDonald house and faxed the proper paper work to them for us. And on the day of Lilly’s surgery, our doctor, your nurses and the staff did so much to ease the minds of some weary and worried parents.”
The hour-long procedure to remove the ureterocele went well, and for some time Lilly was infection-free. Last August, the McCord’s welcomed a second daughter, Emma-Kay, who showed no signs of having any urinary tract complications until she was almost three months old.
“We noticed Emma was having a lot of reflux while taking her formula,” Crystal explains. “As a precaution, her pediatrician suggested catheterizing her to see if she might have a urinary tract infection. That’s when we discovered she has bilateral reflux in both kidneys. Dr. Joseph believes she will outgrow this condition, so for now we are treating her with nightly antibiotics to keep infections at bay.”
Lilly-Rose, who will enter kindergarten in the fall, has had a tough year. “She, too, is on antibiotics, yet she has had several infections and episodes of vomiting,” says Crystal. “We are now looking at a second surgery: a four-hour procedure that will include bladder reconstruction and ureter transplantation. Hopefully, this will mean an end to her kidney and urinary tract problems.”
Once again, the McCords are trusting Dr. Joseph and Children’s Hospital to care for Lilly.
“Dr. Joseph and your hospital have been a blessing in our lives,” Crystal says. “We would never go anywhere except Children’s for our girls’ urology care.”