By Kathy Walsh
LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CBS4) – A mother from Lafayette has a new outlook after surviving a brain aneurysm that blinded her in one eye. Doctors were able to restore her sight and save her baby with a procedure done through just a tiny puncture in her groin.
Adorable Asher House-Rhoda is four months old.
“When I look at him every day, I think ‘I’m glad you’re here,'” said Julie House-Rhoda, Asher’s mother.
That’s because just five months before Asher’s birth, his mother had brain surgery.
“Right about this time a year ago, I was losing vision in my left eye. I just noticed it out of the blue,” House-Rhoda told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
She had a brain aneurysm pressing on her optic nerve. It’s a balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel, what some call a tiny ticking time bomb.
“We didn’t know if we both were going to make it, if he was going to make it, all of that, ” explained House-Rhoda.
“Treating aneurysms, whether they’re ruptured or not, is a dangerous thing,” said Dr. Christopher Roark, a neurosurgeon at the University of Colorado Hospital.
And House-Rhoda’s pregnancy complicated things.
“You can induce pre-term labor. There are also concerns about harming the fetus,” said Roark.
At UCH, House-Rhoda’s multidisciplinary team consisted of neurology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialists, and neuro-ophthalmology. They met regularly to ensure she could deliver her baby in the safest way possible.
In April, when House-Rhoda was 20 weeks pregnant, Roark threaded two micro-catheters through her groin up into the artery with the aneurysm. Using X-ray guidance, the neurosurgeon placed a Medtronic’s tiny Pipeline embolization device — a braided stent composed of 48 wire strands woven together — across the aneurysm and a platinum coil inside it. The Pipeline embolization device diverts the blood flow away from the aneurysm. The coil promotes clotting.
“There’s no aneurysm there,” Roark said pointing to House-Rhoda’s latest brain scan.
Her vision returned. Baby Asher was born without complications.
“I mean grateful doesn’t even begin to sum it up,” said House-Rhoda.
House-Rhoda is a hospice nurse. She believes what she’s been through has made her a better mother, but also a better nurse. This time, she was in the bed experiencing the fear and other emotions. Now, she better understands the patients she cares for.