Hannah's Bio

Hannah Genesis Volcy was born early December 2009 –close to two months ahead of schedule.

When we conceived we were overjoyed that we would have a 4th child.  Our three boys wanted a little sister and would hear nothing of having another brother.  Words can’t describe how relieved we were when the ultra-sound technician gave us the word... "it’s a girl”.  It felt like hitting the lottery… but I exhaled a sigh of relief that we would not have to tell the boys "we can’t change him” as they had requested when our third came along :-)   Needless to say, they were extremely excited and couldn’t wait to meet her.

Marcella’s pregnancy went quite well until the 7th month.  Her gynecologist chose to induce labor early due to an unexpected dramatic drop in Hannah’s in utero activity level.  The natural birth option we’d planned proved too difficult for Hannah to withstand and a cesarean quickly ensued.  

At a week old, an ultrasound scan of her brain showed she suffered bleeding in utero, from unknown causes which blocked the normal flow of spinal fluid from the cranium to the spinal column -a condition know as hydrocephalus*.  Four weeks later, Hannah was transferred to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and underwent brain surgery to insert a shunt that would drain the excess fluid and allow her brain to decompress and function under normal cranial pressure.  A few days later she was released from the hospital; we were delighted to finally bring Hannah home.  Her brothers were terribly excited and put up a special "Welcome Home Hannah” banner in our family room!  Although still overwhelmed by what we’d experienced and the unknown ahead, it felt good to be home… it felt like a sanctuary where we could finally mourn, begin to heal and strengthen.

Two months later, Hannah’s shunt became infested with a Staph infection, and we regrettably took her back to the hospital where she endured five more surgeries, a blood transfusion, and heavy antibiotic treatments. She stopped breathing after one of the many procedures, and watching her be resuscitated was the single most frightening experience for Marcella who spent the night with her.

At five months Hannah’s brain injury was medically confirmed by her neurologist.  The site of her main injury was in the occipital lobe which handles visual processing.  After a few tests Hannah was diagnosed with blindness.  She also suffered from excessive subcortical seizures (one every 2-3 min) originating from the injured site, and her EEG showed that the CSF buildup had caused injury throughout her entire brain.  Beyond this final clinical read-out, the doctors were incapable of determining the long-term impact of the damage and indicated that we would have to "wait and see”. As unsatisfying as that answer seemed, it was truthful...but incomplete.  We felt uneasy with waiting to see and with some research found proactive steps we could take towards her wellness.

We looked online for assistance and found a program in Philadelphia (see our Resources page) which has spent the past 50 years researching and implementing techniques to teach parents what to do with brain-injured kids in order to facilitate neurological healing. The results were very promising, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to help Hannah reach her full potential.  The program is by all standards a very intensive at-home regimen which would turn our "normal" routine on its head, require one of us to stay home full-time and increase our expenses beyond our current means... (hence the need for financial assistance).  But with prayer and perseverance we (including all the boys) have agreed to do whatever is necessary for Hannah to reach her full potential.

Despite her difficult beginning, Hannah is a happy baby and works hard every day to sort out her world and engage us all.  We continue to invest lots of time in therapy and nutrition, but more importantly we provide lots of genuine love... a necessary pre-cursor for optimal neurological development, well-being and healing.