Adriana had focal hyperinsulinism (HI), and a special PET scan pioneered at CHOP was instrumental in helping Surgeon-in-Chief N. Scott Adzick find the part of her pancreas that was making too much insulin. Dr. Adzick, who has performed more pancreatectomies than any other surgeon — more than 500 — removed only that part, and Adriana was cured of the disease.
Video: Adriana's Hyperinsulinism Story
Jenna Palmieri, Adriana's Mother: Adriana was born New Year's Eve, right before the ball dropped. She was born a healthy baby; there were no issues. I had a healthy pregnancy, healthy delivery. We went home; we were discharged. And I guess it was like day three of her life; she just wasn't really interested in eating. I was breastfeeding, and she just wasn't hungry.
We were gonna to wait to take her to the doctor the next day, but we decided to just bring her downstairs in the meantime, and the dog just woke up out of his bed and started barking at her nonstop.
Sal, Adriana's Father: Our dog, Watson, may have saved our daughter's life. He barked at her several times, and you know, she kind of let out this non-energy sound like just no energy in her voice, and we just looked at each other and said, "We have to go." We were taken to community hospital in Tom's River.
Jenna: Normal blood sugar for a baby would be between 60, 70, all the way up to 100, so within that range. Adriana was below 10.
Sal: We're happy that, you know, she didn’t have seizures or any kind of brain damage, which is pretty common when that occurs. If we had taken Adriana in, you know, in the morning and waited, you know, six to eight hours …
Jenna: Something definitely would have happened overnight, I'm sure it wouldn't have been good. As soon as we were in the emergency room, they declared her hypoglycemic. And then, we were transferred to Monmouth Medical because they had the PICU there.
Sal: Our first thought was, like, diabetes, but, you know, they're telling us similar but the opposite. We really didn't know until the doctors came in and really explained, your pancreas is creating too much insulin, and it's, you know, making your … your blood sugars low.
Jenna: We're very thankful that the endocrinologist at Monmouth Medical had ties with CHOP and he was aware of the center here. CHOP was the only hospital around us that we could be sent to, to treat Adriana, and it wound up being the best center in the country, so we were very lucky. We learned when we came to CHOP that there were so many different forms of hyperinsulinism. Adriana had the best case scenario, where she had a focal lesion. Even with it being a focal lesion, we were told that it could be a large part of her pancreas. We didn't know, we really didn't know until Dr. Adzick went in.
Sal: When Dr. Adzick gave us the news after the surgery, he said he had very good news that he was able to remove a very small part of Adriana's pancreas. And he said he thinks he got it all.
Jenna: He drew us a picture; it just took a long time to wrap your head around that, that she's cured. Dr. Adzick is like a super hero in our family to everybody. Everybody talks about him and raves about him and the work that he does, not only on our daughter, but all the families he's helped. There's so many kids here and you're made to feel like, you know, your kid's very important.
Sal: Doctors and even the nurses that took care of us, Dr. De León, Dr. Adzick … that it's just the most incredible place and the doctors are the best at what they do.
Jenna: Our daughter Adriana's a 2 ½-year-old, very healthy, very happy little girl.
Topics Covered: Congenital Hyperinsulinism
Related Centers and Programs: Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center