Kailey Vandrovec: From 16 weeks premature to thriving 8-year-old


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — KELOLAND News has been following her story since she was born. Sioux Falls girl Kailey Vandrovec was born very premature at just 24 weeks.

Her twin sister died just a couple of days after birth, and Kailey has had hundreds of hospital visits and procedures, often fighting for her life. 

After eight years, Kailey is now living life without any medical devices for the first time.

It’s never boring to say the least at the Vandrovec house. 

This Sioux Falls family of six has now added a dog to the mix. 

“I’m not much of an animal guy,” Kailey’s Father Terry Vandrovec said. 

But Terry made a promise to his eight year-old daughter Kailey. 

“Terry was totally messing around and says, ‘I’ll get you a dog when your G-tube comes out,” Kailey’s Mother Jess Vandrovec said.

Kailey depended on the device for almost 3,000 days.

“She never did learn how to eat when she was born,” Jess said.

Kailey was born at just 24 weeks. She was so small she could fit in the palm of your hand. Her twin sister Breley died shortly after birth.

“I remember seeing them and thinking that they didn’t look like babies. They were fetuses. Their eyes were fused shut. Their skin was transparent,” Jess said.

Kailey would spend around five months in the NICU. She’s had hundreds of procedures and has ended up in the hospital several times, fighting for her life. 

“Seeing this one pound, six ounce child fight for her life is so inspiring,” Jess said. 

Even though Kailey has been dealt a hard hand, she’s a fighter. This girl, who once was suffering from brain bleeds, is now in the second grade and doing very well in school. 

“She’s definitely a gentle soul. She gets very upset when people don’t treat each other well,” Terry said.

While she’s a gentle soul, she’s also a fighter who was determined to get that dog.

“She stopped using her G-tube. She just started eating by mouth,” Jess said.

Doctors agreed that Kailey no longer needed her G-tube, but the hole where her tube was started leaking stomach acid. 

“Finally the surgeons said we need to do surgery,” Jess said.

That surgery once again didn’t go as planned. 

“Surgery was supposed to be about 45 minutes, and it was taking longer. We were getting nervous,” Jess said. 

“For a minute your thoughts run wild. At the same time you tell yourself, ‘No. That’s not where she is now,'” Terry said

“When the doctor came out, he said that there were some complications. Her liver had fused to the stomach, and that her stomach had a 2.5 inch hole in it. That’s why it was leaking. He had to repair that and fix a bunch of things,” Jess said.

Thankfully, Kailey has recovered from that surgery last month, and of course she was going to fight for that dog.

“He is hyper, and he is cuddly,” Kailey Vandrovec said. 

While the family has a good laugh about Kailey’s new friend Buddy, times here haven’t always been so easy, but they say they’ve learned some big lessons from their tiny girl–Fight and be grateful for this one life you’ve been given.

“You don’t take things for granted. You’re thankful every day that they’re here, and they’re healthy,” Jess said.

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