10/5/2003 EARLY ARRIVAL: Kailey gets past
tough start, shows fighting spirit
By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff
Matthews was a mere 14.6 ounces at birth. Today,
she's at home with her parents and doing well.
In her brief five months on earth, Kailey
Michelle Matthews has been through a lot. A mere 14.6 ounces at
birth, Kailey has fought valiantly against the odds faced by
"She's amazing," said paternal grandfather,
"She has a tough temperament, and a great
will to survive."
Kailey's parents are Allen Matthews, who
graduated from Dawson High School in 1999, and Casey Shifflett
Matthews, who graduated from Italy High School in 2000. Allen and
Casey saw each other at horse shows and rodeos, because Allen roped,
and Casey was involved in barrel racing. They began dating when
Casey was 14 and Allen 15, and were married in August of 2000.
Following their wedding, the couple moved
to Waco, where Allen went to work for the Texas Department of
Transportation while attending Texas State Technical College, and
Casey went to work as a hairstylist in a salon in Hewitt.
In November of 2002, the Matthews
discovered a baby was expected, and announced it to their pleased
families at Thanksgiving. Casey's parents, Donna and Dennis
Shifflett, reside in the Frost area, while David and Vickie
Matthews, Allen's parents, reside in Dawson.
By January, Casey had developed high blood
pressure, and had to be confined to bed rest. Working at the salon
was no longer an option.
"I could only get up to go to the
bathroom," Casey said. "I had to stay off my feet at all times."
Casey was in and out of the hospital from
January through April, when she spent a week in the hospital with
doctors running tests, trying to control her blood pressure, and
watching her liver and kidneys trying to shut down.
Finally, the doctors at Hillcrest Baptist
Medical Center told Allen and Casey's mom, Donna, that Casey would
die unless they took the baby. At that time, the baby was at 24
A Caesarean section was performed on April
14, and tiny Kailey Michelle Matthews entered the world at 14.6
ounces, and 10 inches long.
"She was the smallest baby at Hillcrest in
Waco to survive," David Matthews said.
"This was something that had to be done,"
Donna said. "They really had no choice."
Kailey spent her first nine days in the
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Hillcrest under the care of Dr.
Darrell Wheeler. Casey spent a week in the hospital herself due to
the still-high blood pressure, and the toxemia causing swelling in
By the 10th day, Kailey had developed
necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which is a condition that damages
the intestines of newborns, and especially preemies.
"She was transported to Cook Children's
Hospital in Fort Worth on April 24," Casey said. "Fortunately, they
were able to treat the NEC without surgery by using antibiotics, and
it cleared up.
"Of the numerous things that could go wrong
with a premature infant, she has not had a single surgery."
While many preemies have the problem of
their retinas detaching, Kailey's eyes have been perfect her entire
"The doctor said she doesn't have to come
back until she is in kindergarten," Casey said.
After a month in Fort Worth, during which
time Casey never left her side, Kailey returned to Hillcrest in Waco
weighing one pound, 11 ounces. Since she was still on the
ventilator, she continued to be monitored at the hospital, but
returning to Hillcrest allowed the Matthews to be back at home.
"She went to Harris Methodist one time for
about 13 hours -- Cook's was full, so the doctors from Cook's came
across the street to Harris to put in a central line, in order to
administer medications and IV fluids," Casey said.
Kailey was removed from the ventilator on
July 4, Independence Day.
"I thought that was so cool," Casey said.
Her first bottle feeding occurred on August
14. She weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces.
"A lot of babies come home with a line in
their stomachs to feed them," Casey said. "Kailey nipple-fed, which
was amazing. She never had any problems feeding."
September 10 was a red-letter day when
Kailey was finally allowed to go home, weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces.
She was still on oxygen and a heart monitor, but Casey was trained
in how to care for her at home.
"I learned a lot over the five months,"
Casey has no plans to return to work soon.
Kailey will need to be kept at home for the foreseeable future.
"The baby is real susceptible to colds,
because they could turn into pneumonia," Casey said. "Preemies can
get RSV, which would put her back in the hospital.
"She has to go to a pediatric pulmonologist
once a month, for the next 6 months. We're not even coming home (to
Corsicana) for Christmas -- it is so important to keep her home."
Casey thinks Kailey may not get to visit
Corsicana until her first birthday, since they plan to keep her at
home through the winter cold season. Meanwhile, having been on the
news in Waco and featured in the Waco paper, Kailey is a little
"There were more prayers than you can
possibly imagine from Corsicana, Texas," Donna said.
"She was on a lot of prayer lists -- we all
were -- she's a little fighter.
"One of Casey's goals is to start a support
group for parents of premature infants at Hillcrest," Donna said.
"She doesn't want anyone to feel as lost as she did.
"Hillcrest just welcomed us to their
Today, Casey has returned to normal, and
Kailey weighs 5 pounds, 1 ounce, and is 17 1/2 inches long. Casey is
grateful to her mom, who stayed with her through the entire ordeal,
and is appreciative of all the prayers.
"Everybody was praying for her -- even
people we didn't know," Casey said.