Eye on KELOLAND: Lena’s Story


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — When one expecting mother went in for a 30-week checkup, she thought it would just be routine. But the news that came next is something no family wants to hear.

At just one year old, Lena Olivier has already been though a lot.

“I went in for my 30-week checkup and I went in and they did an ultrasound and they saw her heart was starting to fail, she wasn’t moving, all she was doing was opening and closing her fists, she wasn’t taking any breaths,” Lena’s mom, Melissa Olivier said.

That’s when the doctor said Melissa needed to go to the operating room. An hour later Lena was born.

“She was taken by the neonatal team and the cardiologist team,” Melissa Olivier said. “We weren’t really sure what was going to happen, they said she had hydrops which is when your body fills with fluid, and that typically has about a 90% mortality rate along with congenital heart block, the third degree has a greater than 60% mortality rate.”

The same day, Lena was flown to the University of Iowa where she got a pacemaker.

After surgery, she got sick.

“Her kidney’s started failing, her diaphragm was being pushed up so she wasn’t able to take breaths due to all the fluid in her body, at one point we were planning her end of life care, we weren’t sure she was going to make it, so we decided to do one last chance to try and place a dialysis catheter, to try and pull some fluid,” Melissa Olivier said.

That procedure worked and the Olivier’s were able to come back to Sioux Falls to finish up the remainder of her care.

“Upon our arrival to Sanford, things were kind of, went up and down for quite awhile, we struggled with frequently collapsing her lungs, she spent close to 90 days in heart failure and it was an up and down battle,” Melissa Olivier said. “They found a very large PDA in her heart, and so they felt that the best thing we needed to do was to close that hole in her heart, and so we got that closed on day 88, and it changed her completely.”

A few days later, Lena was discharged.

Now she currently does therapy a few days a week.

“She’s staying healthy, she’s hitting more milestones, she is starting to act like a normal baby,” Melissa Olivier said.

“She’s very happy, she seems fussy right now, but she’s always smiling and happy, which is pretty amazing for everything she has went through,” Lena’s dad, Gerord Olivier said.

The family is thankful for the staff at Sanford as well as the help from the Children’s Miracle Network.

“Everybody there, it’s amazing, you walk in and you genuinely feel like they care, their love for Lena is just as strong as yours, they want to see her hit these milestones just as much as what anybody else wants,” Melissa Olivier said. “I just cannot thank Children’s Miracle Network enough for the resources they provided us, along with being able to use them, they have became very much so, the Children’s Miracle Network family, a shoulder to lean on.”

Now Lena enjoys spending time with her sisters Macyn and Kambrie.

The Olivier’s are taking it day by day and remaining positive.

“Overall she is doing very well, she has made a lot of big improvements,” Melissa Olivier said.

Melissa says Lena’s pacemaker will need to be replaced every few years.

We’ve shared many other CMN stories, you can watch them all during our 2020 Children’s Miracle Network Special which will air on Tuesday, August 11 at 6:30 p.m. KELO-TV.

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