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Journee’s Journey

0612 journee's journey

Benefit set for girl born with intestines on outside

Tuesday was a good day for baby Journee – and what a journey she’s had.

The infant daughter of Jesika Carnley of Opp was born May 30 in Mobile. It was a happy day that her family never thought to see after an ultrasound early in Carnley’s pregnancy revealed Journee’s intestines were located outside her small, six-pound body.

“From day one, I wasn’t expecting to have her,” Carnley said of her now-thriving daughter. The baby was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a birth defect of the abdominal (belly) wall, which causes the baby’s intestines to grow outside of the baby’s body, through a hole beside the belly button. It’s estimated that about 1,871 babies are born each year in the U.S. with gastroschisis.

Soon after the baby is born, surgery is needed to place the abdominal organs inside the baby’s body and repair the abdominal wall.

Like most babies born with gastroschisis, Journee has a long way to go before becoming completely healthy. Even after the repair, infants can have problems with feeding, digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.

Days are measured in small accomplishments, Carnley said. The things that most new moms take for granted – seeing their baby eat from a bottle and changing dirty diapers – are cause for excitement. It was nearly a week after her birth before Carnley got to hold her newborn daughter. Tuesday morning, Journee’s feeding tube was removed, and the baby attempted formula for the first time.

“This little girl has changed my whole world,” she said. “We still don’t know how long we’ll have to be in the hospital, but my baby is a fighter. Things now seem to be on the right track, and she’s gaining weight.

“And that moment you’re talking away to her and she opens her eyes – there is not enough words to express that feeling,” she said.

To be close to the baby, Carnley and her family are currently staying at the Mobile Ronald McDonald House. After the baby is discharged, the future will be full of doctors’ appointments from their Covington County home to Mobile. To help the family meet the costs of those trips, a benefit poker run will be held Saturday beginning at the Opp VFW Post on U.S. Hwy. 331. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with kickstands going up at 11 a.m.

The event is sponsored by Post No. 6622 VFW Riders in conjunction with volunteers from the Florala EMS, WAMI and WOPP. The $20 entry for riders and all donations given will be donated to “Journee’s Journey.” There will be non-monetary prizes given away during the run, thanks to the “generous businesses of the Opp area.”

The route will take riders from Opp to the Red Level VFW, the Gantt American Legion and then to Jack, before heading back to Opp.

An auction will also be held at the end of the ride, featuring donations from a bevy of volunteers in Florala and Paxton, Fla. For more information on the poker run, contact the Opp VFW at 334-493-3796.