This holiday season, Antonio Zamora and Marlene Campos have two miracles to be thankful for: their twin boys, Giovani and Jonathan, who were born at 24 weeks. Weighing less than two pounds each, they survived many complications shortly after birth.
Zamora describes the weeks and months that followed as a rollercoaster.
But luckily for the family, they had a third miracle to be grateful for: Amy Kuzmich, the clinical nurse specialist for pediatric gastroenterology at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. Kuzmich helped the family through some of their darkest days in the hospital.
Giovani was diagnosed with volvulus, a twisting of the gastrointestinal tract, which blocked blood flow and caused the affected intestine to die. Half of Giovani’s gut needed to be removed, and he had an extensive bowel resection surgery.
After surgery, Giovani required care for short gut syndrome, a condition in which the body can’t absorb enough fluids and nutrition because a part of the intestine has been removed.
Giovani couldn’t receive feedings by mouth. He spent time on total parenteral nutrition (TPN), which provides fluids intravenously, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract.
“Both boys were really sick, and I remember crying hard the first time I met Amy Kuzmich. That day I was so down. She cried with me and then told me that everything was going to be okay,” said Zamora, who was trying to juggle a job and care for two babies who were at two different hospitals.
For a parent with a sick baby, Amy just made everything easier. She was a nurse, a doctor, a social worker and a mom all in one.”
Kuzmich gave him the reassurance that she and the UC Davis Children’s Hospital team would keep him updated and take good care of Giovani while Antonio and Marlene needed to be away from the bedside.
“For a parent with a sick baby, Amy just made everything easier,” Zamora said. “She was a nurse, a doctor, a social worker and a mom all in one.”
Giovani received care from the UC Davis intestinal rehabilitation program to get the nutrition needed for growth and development.
Zamora remembers the milestones: The day his son Jonathan came home from the hospital. The day Giovani stopped TPN. The training Kuzmich provided so Antonio could care for Giovani at home.
“Amy has been a huge addition to our inpatient team. She has been such a support to our short gut patients and their families. She helps them make the transition smoothly from the hospital to outpatient care,” said Arthur de Lorimier, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at UC Davis Children’s Hospital. Kuzmich’s position is funded by a Children’s Miracle Network at UC Davis grant.
Giovani was hospitalized for 168 days. And then, on Sept. 15, 2021, Zamora and Campos were able to bring Giovani home again.
“Antonio and Marlene and the boys are special people and I am so happy for them,” Kuzmich said.
Their boys are now eight months old and are happily back at home. The family will celebrate the holidays together in Woodland.
“I am so thankful for my boys. They are doing well, and we love them so much. Thank you to UC Davis for helping my family,” Zamora said.
UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital providing care for infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for its critically ill patients, as well as a level I children’s surgery center. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. For more information, visit children.ucdavis.edu.