The 180 Medical Community is full of diverse people of all ages and from all journeys of life with truly inspiring stories. From dealing with common but frustrating issues like urinary incontinence to serious illnesses and spinal cord injuries, our customers often come to us after facing some difficult challenges. We are always inspired by how so many still find reasons to smile.
We truly believe you are all rockstars, and that’s why we love featuring real stories from real people like you.
Cooper is one awesome little boy, and we’re excited for you to meet him. His mother Leanne has generously shared their story of the many challenges and milestones they’ve faced together as a family.
An Unexpected Late-in-Life Pregnancy
To understand Cooper’s story, let’s start at the very beginning. When Leanne, Cooper’s mother, was nearing her 40th birthday, she started experiencing what she thought was early menopause symptoms. Imagine her surprise when she visited her doctor to find out she was 8 weeks pregnant!
“It was a total shock,” Leanne says, “but we were so excited.”
Then, at her 20-week ultrasound, doctors discovered Cooper had one kidney that wasn’t developing properly. However, the left kidney seemed to be doing just fine, which gave them some relief.
Also, they discovered Cooper had a ureterocele, which is a swelling in the tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. This is a congenital anomaly that can block urine flow.
All they could really do is continue to monitor the situation. Unfortunately, as her pregnancy progressed, they discovered Cooper’s left kidney was also showing signs of damage, although it was still developing.
Leanne says they knew at that point that Cooper was going to be facing a lot of urological and renal issues ahead. “My husband and I were very scared, but we knew that we would do everything possible for him.”
Cooper’s First Challenges Began Immediately
At 38 weeks, just a few weeks shy of a typical pregnancy length, Cooper was born. He clocked in at a healthy weight at 9 pounds and 14 ounces, but his abdomen was noticeably larger than normal.
In addition, he was not able to urinate on his own. Doctors quickly detected he was having some issues breathing too. Immediately, Cooper went to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) in the hospital.
Doctors cut away the ureterocele, and he eventually started to urinate. However, his right kidney that had not developed properly in the womb was acting as a large urine reservoir. His bladder was also very large.
“His whole system was an overinflated balloon essentially,” Leanne explains.
After many tests and procedures, doctors determined that if Cooper was going to keep his left kidney and reduce any further damage, his right kidney would have to be removed in a nephrectomy surgery.
During that surgery, doctors also made a stoma with a procedure called a ureterostomy, which is the surgical creation of an opening on the abdomen using a ureter. This would allow continuous drainage of urine while decreasing pressure on Cooper’s functioning left kidney.
The Journey of Urological Surgeries Wasn’t Over Yet
Fortunately, the surgery really helped Cooper. “Prior to his surgery, he was not meeting some of his developmental milestones, such as crawling or walking,” Leanne says. His distended belly had been causing issues with his balance and core strength. However, once he healed, he slowly learned to crawl. Within a matter of weeks, he started walking too.
Then, only months later, Cooper developed a bad infection, which led to a febrile seizure. This is a convulsion caused by a high fever. Immediately, his parents rushed into action to save their child.
At the hospital, his doctor determined that even though Cooper’s ureterostomy was draining plenty of urine, he was unfortunately still retaining urine inside his bladder.
At that point, the doctor recommended intermittent catheterization for Cooper. The conventional route of cathing Cooper through his urethra proved unsuccessful, so they decided to go with straight cathing through his stoma every few hours.
Finding the Right Pediatric Catheter Supplier
Now that Cooper needed a regular supply of sterile pediatric catheters, Leanne knew she would need to find the right catheter supplier. Luckily, the urologist referred her to 180 Medical.
Learning How to Catheterize a Child
Of course, cathing a child every few hours doesn’t sound easy. Leanne says it was intimidating to start. However, after a few days, Cooper began to understand that catheterization was just part of his diaper change. Over time, it became easier and easier.
The key is to normalize the process of using a catheter. It’s going to the bathroom, which everyone has to do. Cooper and other children who need catheters just go to the bathroom a little differently.
Plus, Cooper has some amazing parents who are willing to support and teach him. “We do realize that Cooper will need to cath for the rest of his life. We have come to accept that fact, and we’ve made it a part of his routine,” Leanne says. “When he is at the potty-training age, learning to self-cath will also just be a part of his routine.”
What are her tips as a parent for learning how to cath your child?
Leanne says they’ve learned to use distraction during catheterization and diaper changes. Since he’s 2 years old now, he is getting even more active, which means he doesn’t like sitting still long. Distractions such as an iPad or watching a video while they straight cath work really well right now.
They typically catheterize Cooper through his stoma, then let it drain directly into a diaper. Sometimes, his parents also attach a bag to his catheter, depending on where they are at the time. Having an attached urine collection bag can make traveling and going to the bathroom in public restrooms a lot easier on parents and caregivers.
How They Found the Best Pediatric Catheter for Cooper
180 Medical’s Product Specialists dedicate themselves to finding the best possible catheter to suit each customer’s unique needs. We sent out some samples so they could try each one to see which one was most comfortable for Cooper and easiest for his parents to handle and use.
After trying out some different pediatric length catheters, they settled on the GentleCath Glide Hydrophilic Catheter. It comes in sizes as small as 8 Fr, making it an ideal hydrophilic pediatric-sized catheter for children and adolescents as well as adults.
“It makes it easier to slide into the stoma,” says Leanne. She also loves the no-touch handling sleeve so she doesn’t have to directly touch the catheter, which helps keep everything as sterile as possible. This is a major concern because they want to prevent the risk of urinary tract infections as much as possible for Cooper.
Facing the Future Together as a Family
Today, Cooper is an active and good-natured little boy. Right now, he’s really into playing with cars and watching his iPad. He loves his big sister and enjoys playing with her too. He’s an easy-going child who “shows all kinds of excitement for anything new.”
His doctors are waiting and watching to see how his kidney grows with him. However, so far, intermittent catheterization has kept him well with no more incidents of infection. As for the future, it’s likely that more surgeries are ahead for Cooper at some point. It all depends on how his kidney continues to function.
He’s already been through so many challenges, and more challenges may come in the future. Leanne says he is taking it all in stride and remains a sweet, gentle child. Plus, he’s got a caring family who will always support him.
Cooper is truly an amazing little boy, and we here at 180 Medical are absolutely honored to be entrusted with supplying him with the catheters he needs.
Are you a parent or caregiver struggling with the challenge of cathing your child? Do you need help finding the right catheter for your child?
We welcome and encourage you to reach out to us at 180 Medical. We’re ready to help make a difference in your life too!