Camdyn Reisner has a smile that lights up a room. She loves to dance, make new friends, and find new ways to challenge herself.
She’s come a long way since her first days of life, when doctors didn’t think she’d be able to walk or talk.
“She was a healthy newborn,” remembers her mother, Mandy. “When she was 21 days old, when I was holding her, she stopped breathing.”
Mandy’s brother-in-law, Greg, an EMT with the National Guard, happened to be at their home, and immediately began performing CPR. Camdyn was rushed by ambulance to a local hospital, where doctors continued CPR for 57 minutes.
Camdyn’s local doctors conferenced with University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital specialists to determine the best course of action. When her pediatrician eventually felt a faint pulse, Camdyn was airlifted to Iowa City.
“Her pediatrician looked us straight in the eyes and said, ‘We don’t know if she will be alive when you get there,’” Mandy recalls.
Upon arrival at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Camdyn was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and placed in a medically induced coma. She underwent MRI and CT scans during her stay, and her prognosis did not look good.
“The doctor sat down with us and said, ‘We need to have a very serious conversation, and I’m going to be completely honest with you,’” remembers Mandy. “He told us there wasn’t any brain activity going on at that point.”
To the surprise of her care team and family, however, Camdyn eventually awoke and began to improve. A few days after being discharged from the hospital with a heart rate monitor, however, her heart rate soared. She was again airlifted to Iowa City, where she was diagnosed with supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT.
“SVT is an irregular heartbeat,” says Mandy. “Sometimes Camdyn’s heart would beat too fast, and sometimes her heartbeat would be too slow.” She wore a heart monitor for the first year of her life, and took medications to regulate her heart rate.
During the first two years of Camdyn’s life, she also made many trips to her local emergency department. To ensure she received the care she needed closer to home, UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital developed an emergency protocol for her local hospital. Part of the protocol included an immediate phone consultation with a genetics expert and other members of her regular care team.
“It really put (Camdyn’s father) Eric and me at ease because we knew they weren’t doing it alone—they were consulting with the doctors that knew Camdyn’s medical condition like the back of their hands.”
Due to the oxygen deprivation Camdyn experienced at 21 days old, she has had to work hard to overcome developmental delays and involuntary muscle stiffness in her legs. She has had several leg surgeries, occasionally uses a walker, and undergoes weekly physical, occupational, and speech therapies.
Mandy and Eric are grateful to their daughter’s care team for everything they’ve done.
“They gave her a chance at life,” says Mandy. “Camdyn wants to be a doctor when she gets older, because she’s met so many amazing doctors and nurses in her 11 years. She aspires to be like them.”