Family Celebrates Infant’s Birthday with Medical Team who Saved Her Life

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SACRAMENTO -- Abigail Avey seemed to enjoy her first birthday party, even if she didn’t quite know it’s significance.

It was held at the Sutter Medical Center with members of its Pediatric Emergency Department in attendance.

“It’s very possible Abigail wouldn't be here if it wasn’t for the doctors,” said Kyla Avey, Abigail’s mother.

The toddler is healthy now, but when she was born she began to turn blue and was gasping for air. She seemed normal when she was brought to the pediatric emergency department at Sutter, but Dr. Paul Walsh was suspicious after examining a cell phone video the parents had taken of the girl. He and a team of doctors and specialists ran a battery of tests and found that Abigail had a restricted aorta that could lead to heart failure.

“My husband and I describe it like it was like a mad scientist trying to figure out what was going on,” Avey said.

The couple thanked the medical staff who seemed delighted to attend the one year-old’s birthday party, complete with gifts, cake and refreshments.

“It’s so gratifying to see her growing like a normal 12-month-old because it could have been so different,” Walsh, who is also a medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department, said.

Walsh now uses the cellphone video as a training aid for his staff and tells parents to take smart phone videos of strange symptoms to aid doctors in diagnosing mysterious illnesses since symptoms often come and go.