‘He’s A Miracle’: After Harrowing Birth, Wisconsin Family Celebrates Baby’s 1st Birthday

3 April 2022

HAYWARD. Wis. (WCCO) — A Hayward, Wisconsin, family is in awe as they celebrate their little boy’s first birthday.

He had a medical condition that surprised even the pros. But at Children’s Minnesota they found the lifesaving answer they needed.

A baby’s first birthday is always a milestone. But in this case, it’s a miracle.

Baby Jagger (credit: CBS)

“It still amazes me,” Mycaela Scalzo, baby Jagger’s mother, said.

Mycaela and Donovan — parents to an almost 1-year-old girl — found out they were expecting a boy. But when they got an ultrasound there was something they were not expecting.

“He had what’s called an oropharyngeal teratoma. And they can be really small or they can be quite large. His was huge,” Dr. Joseph B. Lillgard, a surgeon at Children’s Minnesota, said. “They can block the airway so that the moment the baby is born, they wouldn’t have the ability to protect their airway and they wouldn’t be able to breathe.”

That’s when they decided to head south from Hayward to Minneapolis, to the Midwest Fetal Care Center, a partnership of Children’s and Allina.

“I think I cried almost every appointment up until he was there. It’s just so unknown,” Scalzo said.

But Lilligard and his coworkers knew what to do. It would require a C-section where the baby would be partially born while doctors removed the grapefruit-sized tumor covering his mouth and face.

“You’re debulking a huge tumor so when I come across the tumor, you’re taking all this very special blood supply, and you have to do so in a baby who can’t breathe on his own, needs all that support from the placenta because the surgery itself takes 20 or 30 minutes, you obviously can’t go 20 or 30 minutes without breathing,” Lilligard said. “And so the placenta, mom, is providing all that support for the baby until we can get that tumor out of the way, the airway secure and then we can separate the baby from mom.”

It was risky.

“I mean we went into my C-section not knowing if he would be OK or if I would,” Scalzo said.

But they were OK.

“It’s pretty remarkable. You go from a really horrific type scene to really a quite, normal, exciting almost perfect-like outcome,” Lilligard said. “The sky’s the limit for Jagger, he can do anything.”

After conquering a brain bleed, Jagger was able to leave the hospital after 76 days.

“I cried the entire way from Minneapolis and I was just so excited. And his dad was driving and he was like, ‘Are you just gonna stare at him the whole time?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I am,’” Scalzo said. “It was just so exciting for him to meet our daughter and just see them finally realize that the other exists.”

“He is really good. He is growing and thriving,” she added.

And so together they celebrate his hard-fought life.

“He’s a miracle and that’s the best way that I think any of us can describe him,” Scalzo said. “He’s the perfect, happy, smiley, little miracle and we are so grateful we ended up where we did.”

Jagger did have another hurdle this past year. He had a brain bleed and was treated for hydrocephalus.

He is doing well now and getting stronger. His mom hopes he won’t have another surgery for at least 20 years.

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