Both Reeves and Ebersole say that although the procedure was exceedingly unusual because of the patient’s tender age, they approached it as they would any other surgery and felt no added pressure with an infant’s life in their hands.
“For me, personally, my anxiety about any procedure has to do with whether or not it’s the right thing to do,” Ebersole says. “Once I’ve decided that I’m doing the right thing, then there’s no nerves at all. ... [And] once she experienced the second bleeding, I was strongly compelled that there was not a better solution, so I was not nervous thereafter.”
Although the use of superglue captured the public’s attention when news about the surgery went out around the world, superglue is actually now a standard tool for sealing aneurysms. For the surgeons and their colleagues, the intriguing aspect of the case was the fact that Ashlyn was just 3 weeks old at the time of the procedure. Our doctors will detail their experience in medical literature so professionals worldwide can learn from the case, but they don’t anticipate that it will be needed anytime soon.
“That’s not just a once-in-a-career case,” Reeves says, “it’s a once-in-a-career case for 100 different surgeons. I don’t ever expect to see a case like this ever again.”
The KU surgeons emphasize that the parents did everything right, as did physicians who initially failed to suspect a brain aneurysm; it is simply too rare of an event to expect it to be immediately diagnosed. For that reason, too, they caution parents who have heard about Ashlyn’s case not to immediately fear a brain bleed if their infant has a turn in health that proves difficult to diagnose.
“That is not the point of broadcasting this situation with this baby,” Reeves says. “It’s just very unique and interesting, and thankfully with a good outcome.”
The relieved Julians brought 3-month-old Ashlyn back for a visit in late August, and her doctors say the bright, happy baby can be expected to enjoy normal childhood development.
“I wasn’t even thinking about anything we went through,” Ebersole said while cradling Ashlyn, who sported a lacy headband and a “My Daddy Rocks” bib. “I was just thinking that she just seems fantastic. I forgot about all those things that we went through.”