NEW ORLEANS - A baby from Houma was the first in the region to get a new jaw using high-tech virtual surgery planning.
In just a couple of hours in the O.R., doctors at Children's Hospital gave the newborn a new future.
Six-week-old Ella Bourg's parents love to hear her cry. They remember the days in the NICU with a tube down her airway when she couldn't cry. And they remember the day she was born in Houma.
"I knew she wasn't crying right and I kept looking at Chad's face and the doctors kept on going on like everything was fine but I knew something wasn't right," said Ella's mother Nicole Bourg through tears.
Ella was born with Pierre Robin Syndrome. Her lower jaw was so small that her tongue fell back in her throat blocking her airways. She was flown by helicopter to Children's Hospital in New Orleans, where Dr. Hhugo St. Hilaire used new technology to fix the birth abnormality.
"It always makes you feel good inside that you're able to change a newborn's life," said Dr. Hilaire who is board certified in both plastic and reconstructive surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. He is on staff at Children's Hospital and on the faculty at LSU Health Sciences Center as a Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery in the division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Before surgery, at only 10 days old, CT scans and 3D printers made a model of Ella's skull. Custom internal and external devices were made so that in surgery, Dr. St. Hilaire could get the exact result Ella needed. Where to cut the jaw bone, and the length and placement of every screw, were done with virtual surgical planning so no jaw nerves or teeth buds are injured. Then twice a day, Ella's jaw bone was stretched little by little in two directions.
"The days after surgery were probably the worst days of my life. It was pretty rough. Those memories, I can't get out of my head," said Nicole.
A couple of weeks later, Ella's jaw was the normal length with her tongue in the right spot, and no breathing problems.
"On day, I don't know, 18 or so, they pulled the tube out and it's like we high-fived," said Chad Bourg, Ella's Father.
"It's very good," said Dr. Hilaire about Ella's prognosis. "Especially because we did not find any genetic problem with her, that means that her growth potential is basically normal."
At 28 days old, Ella was home with her three older siblings.
In a month or so, Ella's jaw implant device will be permanently removed.
Then when she is one, she will have surgery to fix her cleft palate inside of her mouth.