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Eden's Story

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.." 2 Timothy 4:7-8


"There's tough, and then there's eden."

-Surgical critical care fellow, Dr. Abby zamora

Children's Memorial hermann hospital, houston, tx

Lexie Calhoun, Eden's Mom and President of ECCF, shares part of their story.

Eden Jeanette's miraculous story started long before she ever uttered a breath. 

We were so happy when we found out we were pregnant in January of 2022. I was in the middle of moving to San Antonio, TX to be reunited with my husband, Dylan, in our military journey. During those first 11 weeks of pregnancy, we were simply ecstatic. When I went to my first Ob appointment with our new provider in San Antonio (alone - Dylan couldn't leave base during the day), I remember seeing the outline of a baby move in my tummy for the first time. Happiness soared in me. I waited in the patient room for the doctor to come in after the ultrasound, only to find a long look on her face. She broke the news to me that Eden (didn't know if it was a boy or girl at the time) had a large cystic hygroma on the back of her neck. This meant she only had a 10% chance of making it full term, and even if she did make it, there was a 75% chance she had a genetic disorder. She told me I would probably miscarry within the next 3 weeks, and if that didn't happen, we had the option to terminate (which was not an option to us).

I left that appointment distraught, upset, and confused. We spent the next few weeks depressed and in despair. But, we decided that we had to trust in God that He was going to use our daughter for so much good, and we just had to simply trust His plan. So we went ahead and announced our pregnancy, and we went along with life (trying to stay positive) because we believed Eden would overcome this. We started going to a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist in San Antonio every 2 weeks who focuses on high risk pregnancies. We found out during this time that the blood test showed no genetic disorders (a huge miracle full of praises for us). At our 14 week appointment, the hygroma had completely disappeared! The doctors were amazed that is simply went away after being so large. Eden had overcome her first battle in what we later realized would be the first of many. At that moment, we knew we had a very tough baby.

At 16 weeks, we got the news that there was concern of Eden having a birth defect called congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) as they thought they saw her stomach up in her chest. Our first questions were, "How severe is this, and will she make it to term?" We were told it's pretty rare, but she should definitely make it to term. Because of the severity, we were referred to Houston to see what their CDH center had to offer. So, we travelled to Houston at 22 weeks for our first visits with the best possible team of surgeons and doctors. We immediately felt at home and at peace with this is where Eden needed to be. 

After weekly visits between our MFM in San Antonio and the MFMs in Houston for the next half of the pregnancy, we relocated to Houston completely at 34 weeks pregnant, ready for our precious baby girl to arrive. We were so excited, yet so nervous because we knew the hard part was just beginning. 

On September 6th, 2022, our incredible daughter was born weighing 5 pounds and 3 ounces with beautiful, dark, curly hair. Perfect, beautiful, and full of spunk. There were 30 people in our delivery room waiting to help Eden as she immediately learned her little lungs weren't working the correct way. We didn't get to hold her when she was born, and they took her to the other side of the room to intubate her. Dylan went over to take a picture, and when she heard his familiar voice, she wouldn't quit looking in his direction. The nurses/doctors are literally pulling her head back towards them to intubate her, and she would rather look at her daddy than be helped to breathe. She always did things on her own terms! And finally, 5 hours after she was born, we got to spend some precious time with her in the NICU, our first as a family.

The morning of September 7th, we were told that she had to be put on ECMO, which is more or less life support. We knew she had a high chance of being put on this once she was born, but we were still devastated when she had to be put on it. We knew she needed it to save her life, but we also knew that 50% of babies on ECMO don't make it. We also knew there were so many risks with clots and bleeding. But again, we were trusting in God that she would be healed and get off of it soon. She had her CDH surgery on the 8th, and on the night of the 9th, we heard a knock on our door that Eden's ECMO machine clotted in the cannula of her neck, and she's been breathing on her own with the ventilator for 45 minutes as they've tried to get the clot out. We were shocked, scared, and we waited for another hour until the surgeons came to talk to us. While it was a miracle Eden lived that long with the vent on her own with no medications or chest compressions needed, this was "very, very severe" and we were taking things an hour at a time. 

That one complication led to her having 10 other surgeries to fix what happened. We found out later that a clot went in her body that night and occluded majority of her aortic arch and left carotid artery going to her brain. While miraculously, again, she still had complete brain function and no brain bleeds, she did have many other complications. Her intestines had minimal blood flow for hours after the clot occluded the aorta, so 3/4ths of her intestines were not viable. Her kidneys quit working. Her legs turned blue. A little section of her liver was not viable. Her gallbladder and appendix were taken out. She had to have open heart surgery to get the clot out of her aorta. And after each surgery (some minor and some major), her surgeons were more and more amazed at how well she bounced back and recovered. Somehow, it seemed as if her personality grew with each obstacle she overcame. She would open those big beautiful eyes and give her nurses/doctors the famous "Eden stink eye" every time. We could see how each doctor and nurse grew to love her more and more and truly started developing a bond with her. She was fighting so hard to be here and was so resilient. Multiple surgeons told us they've never worked with a baby like Eden. Nurses from multiple floors would come by Eden's bed just to check on her, even if he/she was never one of Eden's nurses. Her incredible story spread throughout the NICU and cardiac ICU. 

After finally getting all her issues "fixed", her lungs were doing great for a CDH baby, the time came to get off ECMO. After multiple trials, Eden finally got off ECMO on her 3-week birthday. It was not an easy feat - she coded and flatlined during the surgery to get off. After "coming back", her surgeons said she looked straight up at them and, again, gave them her famous stink eye. They told us this, cried, and hugged us. This is also where Dr. Zamora said the quote mentioned above, "There's tough, and then there's Eden." We felt like this scary story was finally behind us, and we could finally look forward to recovery and getting out of the hospital within a few months. 

The next day off of ECMO, Eden made incredible strides. She was weaning off her medications by the hour, and they were constantly lowering her ventilator settings. She went from 100% oxygen to 72% by the end of that day. All her doctors and surgeons were, again, amazed by her. We all discussed her future with our next steps over the upcoming months. We had prayed and prayed for God to heal her, and he kept giving her miracle after miracle. We were so thankful.

A few days later that weekend, things started going downhill for our sweet girl. Her blood pressure started dropping, and even with constant additional dosages to her medications, nothing was working. They had to go back up to 100% on her oxygen levels. Worries of infection started creeping in. On the morning of Monday, October 3rd, we got a call that Eden's vitals had dropped, they were doing chest compressions, and for us to get there quickly. After a few hours, Eden's body told us that it was time for her to be healed in Heaven with Jesus and that she was ready to go. For the very first time, she got to feel her mommy and daddy finally get to hold her and kiss her as she went home. In the end, after crushing all 13 surgeries, infection is what her little body couldn't fight. 

The rest of that day is private and special to Dylan and myself, but we will share that each of her nurses, doctors, and surgeons came in the room and cried with us. Eden had moved them to a point where even they, who see critical care babies go to their heavenly home many times, sat with us and sobbed. She did that to everyone who came into contact with her or was keeping up with her story. She changed them. Although Dylan and I obviously will forever struggle with losing our perfect baby girl, we find so much comfort in that she is in the arms of Jesus, waiting for us to get up there to that incredible place with her. She is not struggling or having to fight so hard (although she fought wonderfully).


She did not lose the battle. This is not a sob story. She fought so hard that she actually won the war, and she is now where we all aim to be one day - with Jesus. 

Our biggest motivating factors in life now are 1) people will never forget her story or her name, 2) she is proud of her parents, and 3) we use her miraculous story to help others. We feel as The Eden Calhoun Charitable Fund does all of those things. We always will wish our sweet baby is here on Earth with us, but we are so thankful to God that we had 27 amazing days with her. And even when we are hurt, confused, and don't understand why God allows certain things to happen, we are still so thankful we have a God that we can be hurt, confused, and mad at and still loves us just the same. He is proud of Eden's work here on Earth with bringing many people closer to Him for his divine kingdom. And we are just so, so, proud to be her parents. 

Thank you for reading her story, and we hope you can help us achieve the things above by donating to her fund so we can help families who must relocate to find the right care for their CDH baby. ❤️

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