Shortly after birth, proud parents might quickly count their newborn’s fingers and toes, hoping to ensure they have a healthy baby in their hands.
Brodie Rose Bomar was born Feb. 16 with a normal and healthy appearance, but beneath the surface, unbeknownst to her family, she carried an enlarged heart and an uncertain future. Soon after Brodie was born, she struggled to keep food down and failed to gain weight, a condition her mother, Jennifer Rose, presumed was acid reflux.
“I went to a doctor and told him my baby is losing weight, is uncomfortable and not eating,” Rose said.
At only 11 pounds, 4 ounces, Brodie is well below the typical 15-20 pounds most babies should weigh at nearly five months. Her doctor attributed the weight loss to a problem with her mother’s milk and recommended soy formula, which did little to help, Rose said.
“It didn’t matter if it was bottle or breastmilk, and I told (the doctor) that and went to the ER and asked for X-rays,” Rose said. “Nobody believed me when I was telling them something else was wrong.”
After switching doctors to Sarah Woerner, who recommended taking Brodie to Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento, it was found that Jennifer Rose was right — something else was wrong. X-rays revealed that Brodie had dilated cardiomyopathy, where the heart is larger than normal.
“Her heart doesn’t provide enough blood to her intestines and other body parts, so she isn’t able to digest nutrients,” Rose said. “A typical baby is supposed to eat between 24 and 30 ounces a day, and she was eating four (ounces).”
“I’ve been working as a vet technician and could see her heart was enlarged, and there was fluid in her lungs,” Rose said. “I just broke down crying.”
Rose took her baby to a cardiologist who then gave her even worse news.
“He said it was one of the worst echocardiograms he had ever seen,” Rose said. “I was in shock. I broke down a few times. I had already accepted that she was going to die.”
Brodie was then transferred to Stanford Lucille Packard Hospital in Palo Alto, where Rose has stayed with her, hoping for improvement.
“I’m more hopeful now because we hear a little bit more good news, that she had a night’s sleep or gained a little weight,” Rose said. “They say she looks better than she should. She’s smiling and happy.”
Doctors have yet to give Rose an estimated time frame but said Brodie could be in the hospital for several months and needs to gain weight to sustain a heart transplant.
“My fear is that while she’s gaining weight and being supported on heart medications, she is still not going to be able to make it to the heart transplant,” Rose said. “They say it could go bad, that she has potential to go downhill, or she can get better. They haven’t given me a definitive answer. It’s just a waiting game.”
Rose said the doctors are also unable to provide a possible cause for the cardiomyopathy, as she said there is no genetic predisposition.
“Sometimes it’s just a fluke thing that happens,” Rose said. “We have family living into the early hundreds, so this blows my mind because we have no idea what caused it and neither do the doctors.”
Rose quit her job to stay with her daughter while Blaine Bomar, Brodie’s father, works in San Jose for Grass Valley Turf and visits the hospital at night.
“He seems to have it figured out. I don’t even talk to him about that. All my focus is staying next to Brodie,” Rose said. “Right now, we’re not even thinking about money. I have a bed here in the room with her, and I’m not paying for any kind of gas, and they’ve been giving me some food vouchers for the cafeteria.”
At some point, the family plans to move to the area, though the high cost of living in Palo Alto will be difficult.
“We’re used to paying $900 a month for a two-bedroom on acreage.”
Brodie is at a high risk for heart failure and arrhythmia because of her condition.
“I’m the only one who can comfort her when she starts crying,” Rose said. “They can’t let her cry for any extended period of time, not even five minutes because her heart rate can go up, and she can have a heart attack.”
“We just try to keep her sleeping and hope she gets through another day.”
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.