11:51 AM

Saint Joseph Hospital making baby dreams come true for cystic fibrosis patients

A cystic fibrosis diagnosis used to be considered severe and life-threatening. It’s an inherited disease that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs, and until a few years ago, the life expectancy was only 10 years. 

Cystic fibrosis is a progressive disorder that requires daily care for those who have it, however, in the past five years, that has changed dramatically. Thanks to a drug called Trikafta, approved by the FDA in 2019, the prognosis for people living with the disease has drastically improved. 

“We’ve seen new medications coming out that have improved prognosis, life expectancy and in many cases fertility,” said Dr. Katie Rustici, an OBGYN at SCL Health Medical Group - Central Park OB-Gyn in Denver. 

Interestingly, improved fertility was not an intentional effect of the drug, but has been a game-changer for many people living with the disease who weren’t able to have children before. One of these people is Andrea Olsen, who had only one wish for her life. She wanted to be a mother. 

Andrea told Denver 7: “All I ever wanted was to be a stay-at-home mom, but when I was growing up, I never thought about my future because I never thought I would be here.” 

Andrea started taking Trikafta and to her surprise became pregnant almost two years ago. At first, she didn’t believe it, but after her 12th positive pregnancy test, she knew her dream was becoming reality. 

Five years ago, Dr. Rustici delivered Saint Joseph Hospital's first baby from a person with cystic fibrosis. Now, thanks to modern medicine, they’re delivering 10-20 babies a year at Saint Joe’s from moms with the disease. Dr. Rustici is also Andrea’s OBGYN. 

The birth of Willow 11 months ago, or Pillow, as Andrea calls her, changed her entire world for the better, as well as her outlook on life. Andrea admits she wasn’t taking her medication like she was supposed to until her baby girl was born. 

“Ever since I had her, all that’s changed because I have to be healthy for her,” Andrea said. “She’s my little miracle and I’m grateful for life. I just take it one day at a time.”