ATLANTA — Little Justice Altidor, who is 4 months old, will grow up to hear the amazing story of how her life and her sister's life began. Between the identical twins, they spent 168 days in the hospital.
Emerging technology, engineering, and innovative medicine all connected to help Justice survive - now thrive at home.
Their mom Emanuella Altidor is soaking up the time.
“We are having fun and loving the chance to connect with each other," she said.
“You have to savor the moments."
The twins are home and showing mom and dad how unique they are.
“Even though they are identical they are completely different, they make us laugh and look at them with wonder," Jean Altidor said.
The girls are reunited and the Altidor family all together for the first time since the identical twins were born in July.
“They were born, they were instantly separated because Justice needed some help with breathing.” Mom said.
Justice Altidor's innovative surgery
Justice was diagnosed with double aortic arch and has been followed by cardiologists at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center. She underwent her first open heart surgery at just 11 days old to repair her heart defect.
Despite surgery, she continued to experience trouble breathing from her collapsed airway and was placed on a ventilator. Her team realized they would have to do more. They decided on an innovative surgery, never-before done on a child so young.
Hers was a concerning, complicated, and groundbreaking case.
“Doctors did what we didn’t even know was possible,” their mom said. “We are so grateful for it.”
The team at the hospital called on biomedical engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They performed the 3D tracheal splint surgery. The procedure involves surgically implanting a 3D printed Airway Support Device. It was made using a CT scan from Justice.
Doctors believe Justice is the youngest patient ever to undergo this groundbreaking procedure.
“At first, we were nervous when we realized she was the youngest,” mom said.
“They were helpful in explaining everything and making it understandable," their dad added.
Justice’s parents know this is part of her story and one that could help other children in the future.
“We trusted God and knew he’d take care of her.” Emanuella said. “This will be a part of her testimony.”
This is one of only a few procedures of its kind ever performed at Children’s and among only approximately 30 done the nationwide up to this point.
It was a success. Justice is breathing on her own and strong enough to be home.
“It is magical because we didn’t think it would come so soon," Jean said.
“We’ve had many tears along the way; but now they are happy tears that everyone has been waiting, me and my husband have been so anxious and we’ve been waiting for this moment," said Emanuella .
They are first time parents, now enjoying their daughters at home. Their father said it is a love and gratitude that is difficult to describe.
“It is just magic every time you see them or pick them up," he explained.