Following 5-Year-Old Abbee Through Her 10th VEPTR Surgery

December 16, 2016 12:00 PM

This Little Victor let her fans come along for her surgery at Mott Children’s Hospital — from arrival to recovery.

Abbee is no stranger to hospitals.

The 5-year-old was born with an asymmetrical rib cage and scoliosis that prevents her lungs from growing properly — a condition known as thoracic insufficiency syndrome.

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Which is why Abbee relies on a VEPTR (vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib) that requires periodic surgery. When adjusted, the device helps expand a recipient's rib cage and straighten their spine.

In early December, she went in for her 10th VEPTR surgery at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. Abbee and her family allowed a glimpse into the process. 

Here's a look at her recent visit, retold in a series of tweets from @MottChildren:

 

Meet Abbee. She's 5 and loves to swim and dance.

She's here! Today we’re following 5-yr-old Abbee into the OR for her 10th #VEPTR procedure. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/90WDOVXoSb

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

She also spends a lot of time in the hospital.

Abbee and her family just got checked in at the famous Frog Desk. Heading to the waiting room now. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/GMnCsrUmgW

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

But Abbee isn't scared.

We are playing a little game of "Abbee Checkers" while we wait. Abbee keeps winning. 🏆#AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/K1O7n5GyOc

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Selecting a new bracelet charm before each surgery helps!

First stop is the gift shop! Abbee picks out a new charm for her bracelet before every surgery. Today's choice was a snowflake! #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/N9uE4c4jMM

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

She is a pro at getting her blood pressure and vitals taken.

Height. Weight. Blood pressure. Abbee is a pro at this! #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/Y32BnRhl57

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Her care team stops by to say "Hi," including surgeon Dr. Li.

Meet Dr. Li. She’s Abbee’s orthopedic surgeon and will perform today’s surgery. https://t.co/OqpPac1BF4 #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/lX3aL2ORn0

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

And her anesthesiologist, Dr. Danloff.

Meet Dr. Danloff, the the anesthesiologist who will ensure Abbee’s safety while under anesthesia. https://t.co/3SbhRQoCXl #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/TJfOdXoJ1k

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

And Nurse Devon, who will be her OR nurse.

Devon stopped by to introduce herself. She will be Abbee's main nurse in the OR. She's checking Abbee's ID bracelet. We do that a lot. :) pic.twitter.com/0j3CU18zMT

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Child life specialist Andrea lets Abbee make decisions.

Andrea uses an iPad to explain what to expect today and help her make choices...like whether she wants her medicine from a cup or squirted. pic.twitter.com/h2bjKhG6Rr

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Dr. Li uses a marker to show Abbee where her incision will be.

Dr. Li made a mark on Abbee's back where the incision will be. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/31jn1NCIKL

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

When it's time, Abbee's new friend Michael carries her back.

It’s ‘go’ time! Michael from anesthesiology is escorting Abbee to the operating room. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/DIJ5gXNVBc

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Special medicine will keep her asleep the entire time.

Abbee's reindeer "Tinsel" keeps an eye on things as Abbee gets a touch of "giggle gas." #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/uy26pyzPTK

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Scrub nurse Annette makes sure the operating room is stocked.

Annette is Abbee's scrub nurse. She's responsible for all the surgical instruments and equipment for Abbee's procedure. #bigjob #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/KFx53jf45L

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

She helps Dr. Li with her gloves before they start.

Dr. Li finishes scrubbing in and Annette helps her get her multiple layers of gloves on. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/y1DHTjHXrx

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

The team cleans Abbee's skin so it is free of germs.

The surgical team is washing the area around the incision site with a liquid that kills germs. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/GCVuj0KY1M

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Doctors examine an image of Abbee's VEPTR rod.

The team uses a portable fluoroscopy unit to take new images of Abbee's VEPTR before the procedure begins. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/HtN5Olr4yU

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

After making an incision, Dr. Li uses pliers to lengthen it.

Dr. Li uses a special expansion pliers to gently lengthen the #VEPTR rod. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/bDM7lpAB9x

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

She waits to make sure Abbee's body adjusts to the extension.

Dr. Li gently lengthens the rod until she feels pressure, then waits a few moments for tissue to relax/settle. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/TZZrYQ2iky

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

The surgeons carefully sew up the incision.

Dr. Li and Dr. Mlynarek carefully sew Abbee’s incisions closed. Stitches will dissolve slowly over course of a few weeks. #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/21JHcuYN4S

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

The operation went well, Dr. Li tells Abbee's family.

Dr. Li shares the good news – the procedure went great! #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/tc2tJP5j5P

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Nurses help keep Abbee comfortable when she wakes up.

Abbee is awake and enjoying some juice. She'll be heading home soon! #AbbeesArmee pic.twitter.com/MRyRNDoFfs

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

 

Soon, she is feeling much better. Hail, Abbee!

And that's a wrap! Abbee is heading home. Let's send her off with a big "Hail" from all the new members of #AbbeesArmee! pic.twitter.com/phd57UYxGv

— C.S. Mott Children's (@MottChildren) December 8, 2016

To read more about Abbee, her condition and her progress, click here