Rapid City family receives care from Monument and Sanford Health; shares story of little girl’s medical journey

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 2:33 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - You’ve all heard the rhyme: “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” Most parents have nine months to prepare to bring a bundle of joy into the world. But the reality for some is clouded by unknowns.

For one Rapid City couple, early in their pregnancy, they learned that mother nature had plans outside of the normal.

“Having 9 months was going to be the right time but after my water broke at 28 weeks,” said Kristi Sabo. “Not knowing when we’re going to come back and how much time we’re going to have, do I have my clothes, things like that, kind of cross your mind.”

Kristi and Ty Sabo met, got married, and decided to begin their family. Not long after the test turned blue, their lives turned dark.

“We found out fairly early on that something was going on with her,” continued Kristi. “She was diagnosed with this Hydrops, which is a very fatal diagnosis. Usually, they don’t even last to birth and even if they do, it’s hours before passing. Our maternal-fetal medicine doctor, from Sanford but here in Rapid City, actually told us ‘no matter where and what time it is we are going to deliver you in Sioux Falls’ because we needed to be closer to somebody with pediatric surgeons in case, we had no idea what we were going to be dealing with.”

Kristi’s water broke 12 weeks early, giving her no time to make it to Sioux Falls. She gave birth at Monument Health and 8 days later, mother and baby made Sanford Health their home for the foreseeable future.

“So having a 28-weeker, you don’t know what the quality of life is going to be,” Kristi explained through tears. “You don’t know how long you’re going to be gone. When you get to hold them. When you get to hold them tube free. When you get to feed them. I’ve lived here my whole life and Regional (now Monument Health) is where I was born and this is what I know and the people I know are around me. Getting off that plane and being ambulanced to the hospital, to a hospital I’ve never been to, to people I’ve never met, it’s a scary feeling but we were welcomed with open arms.”

“I’ve known her basically since she was born,” said Dr. Kurt Eeg. “She came to me when she was 8 days old.”

Dr. Kurt Eeg is the only board-certified pediatric urologist in South Dakota. Because of the working relationship between east and west river hospitals, he was and is able to care for Lennon.

“I’ve had a great relationship with west river, Monument Health, Black Hills Peds,” continued Dr. Eeg. “I go out there about every two weeks to look after the kids in the region. I see Lennon out there on a regular basis for her follow-up visits and we look after lots of patients from Monument Health and west river.”

“She has physical therapy once a week, she has occupational therapy once a week, she has speech therapy once a week, we have normal doctor visits,” explained Kristi. “We see all of our specialties from Sanford here because they fly out here so it’s more convenient for us.”

After 109 days, Lennon came home to Rapid City.

Today, she continues to defy odds.

“Obviously, the first birthday was huge because we didn’t know we were ever going to make it that far. That year, it was traumatizing. We got to see her crawl, we got to see her walk, now she’s got such a fun personality.”

A personality sure to shine through during her second birthday as well.