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Emotional reunion with South Florida baby, Jackson Health team who saved her life

By Lauren Pastrana,


Emotional reunion with South Florida baby, Jackson Health team who saved her life 02:46

MIAMI - Most first birthday celebrations include balloons and cake, maybe a favorite character.

But for one South Florida baby, the superheroes at her celebration are real and they wear white coats.

The doctors at Jackson Health System worked together to bring River Jo Riley into this world one year ago and then saved her life.

"We started to find through the ultrasound that there was a little piece of our angel that was not in the right place. And that was her intestine," said River's mother, Julieanna Goddard.

A routine ultrasound revealed Julieanna Goddard's baby had developed Gastroschisis, a birth defect where a hole in the abdominal wall allows the baby's intestines to extend outside of the body.

"When you look it up, the pictures are not very comforting," Goddard said.

"Like, wow. This is going to happen to my child."

But Goddard, known as "YesJulz" by many in the hip hop music and entertainment history says doctors like Carmen Tudela and Angela Reyes Truong kept her calm and well-cared for through it all.

"Our plan was initially to have the baby naturally, but River showed us that's not the way she wanted to come out. And we had to perform an emergency cesarean section," Dr. Reyes said.

"I'm fortunate and grateful to have brought her into the world and then quickly passed her on to the next team so she could get the best care possible."

That team included pediatric surgeon Dr. Chad Thorson, who says they placed a bag over River's intestines and were able to put them back where they belonged, something that would have been impossible a couple of generations ago.

"50 years ago, this condition was almost always fatal because their bowels are not functioning well at the beginning," he explained.

River spent a month in the NICU before going home.

"She came into this world fighting for her health and freedom and the ability to come home to her family," Goddard said.

"I think she's definitely going to be a fighter and a strong young woman and I'm already proud of her."

Doctors say this case highlights the importance of routine prenatal care.

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