Ten weeks after learning they were going to be parents, doctors told 20-year-old Cody Conley and 18-year-old Christan Dagen from Corning, California that their baby girl would be delivered with an omphalocele, a birth defect in which the infant’s intestine or other abdominal organs grow outside of the belly button. The muscles in the abdominal wall (umbilical ring) do not close properly. As a result, the intestine remains outside the umbilical cord. At the time, doctors assessed that their baby would have perhaps a 25 percent chance of surviving.
Rhylie Boles was born on November 29, 2012. Approximately 25-40 percent of infants with an omphalocele have other birth defects. Rhylie’s parents were grateful to learn that their baby had none. With that, her chance of survival jumped to 90 percent. Since her arrival, Rhylie has been housed in the UC Davis Medical Center Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Cody and Christan have been guests at the nearby Kiwanis Family House (KFH).
Four times every day, they have shuttled between the KFH and NICU to care for – and learn how to care for – their precious girl. Cody says the work has been more exhausting than any physical labor he has ever done. Without the option of staying locally at the KFH and being able to provide this loving support, they may very well have had to stay in Corning and had more limited visits.
Less than a month old, Rhylie is feeding well and is growing. When she is released and returns to Corning, her still-developing lungs will require oxygen for a period of time. Additionally, she will not be ready for the necessary corrective surgeries until she has grown for 12-18 months. So, at least twice each month until then, this young family will have to make the two-hour drive between Corning and Sacramento for ongoing monitoring and treatment.
Their every-day living challenges are severely impacted by a lack of financial resources. Cody is actively seeking employment but remains out of work. A mechanically unreliable vehicle and daunting fuel prices worry Rhylie’s parents as they think about their need to travel Highway 99 over the next year to ensure Rhylie’s health and safety.
Like thousands of families over the past 28 years, Cody and Christan had the security of knowing that staying at the Kiwanis Family House meant that they could remain close to their baby. During this giving season, we will be sharing stories of families that have been helped by the Kiwanis Family House this year.
With your support, the Kiwanis Family House can continue to help families in times of crisis. Right now the Family House needs to replace the refrigerators in the families’ kitchens. These refrigerators mean that families have the means to prepare meals for themselves while at the Family House. Please consider making your contribution to the Kiwanis Family House during this season of giving and help support the KFH families.