Owasso mother raising awareness after child's birth injury

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Reported by: Michelle Linn
Updated: 9/23/2013 7:12 pm Published: 9/23/2013 1:04 pm

When Amber Lucas, of Owasso, was pregnant with her daughter, Olivia Lucas, she never worried about a brachial plexus injury. 

In fact, like most people, she'd never even heard of brachial plexus injuries or a resulting condition known as Erb's palsy.

"My doctor was amazing; she was so calm during the whole thing, but you knew something was very wrong," said Lucas.

During delivery, 14 months ago, Olivia's head became wedged beneath Amber's pelvic bone. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the Olivia's arm and head. Olivia was trapped, and the doctor had to act fast to free her. She pulled the baby's left arm.

"She saved my baby's life," Lucas said.

The trauma of that birth caused a brachial plexus injury, which resulted in Erb's palsy.

The nerves that control Olivia's left hand, arm and shoulder were torn. At 6 weeks, doctors confirmed the diagnosis, and Olivia began weekly physical therapy sessions.

Six months ago, when Olivia was 8 months old, she traveled to St. Louis Children's Hospital for a three-hour nerve graft surgery.

"They had to go in and cut out the scar tissue and graft it with an allograft, which is processed cadaver nerves," Lucas said.

Now, at 14 months, there are still things Olivia can't do, like reach in her back pocket or turn her palm toward the sky. But her family is focusing on what Olivia can do.

"She can pull things down, she can try to climb, she can lift really heavy things. That's awesome for a brachial plexus kid," says Lucas.

Two weeks ago, Olivia had a checkup at Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis. She came home wearing a new brace to help straighten her arm. She will continue weekly physical therapy sessions.

There may be more surgeries in Olivia's future, but for now, doctors are very pleased with how well she continues to recover from her nerve graft surgery.

Lucas says she's found tremendous support online through the United Brachial Plexus Network. She's also set up a Facebook page, Olivia's Journey, to raise awareness.

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