Texas Children's Hospital
During her 30 week ultrasound scan, Austyn Evans got the news no mom-to-be wants to hear: her son Conrad had a fetal lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO), which caused a rare and complex kidney condition. To make matters worse, there was no amniotic fluid around him.
Knowing the gravity of the situation, doctors at Austyn's local hospital in Florida transferred her to Texas Children's Pavilion for Women in Houston where they were more equipped to handle Conrad's life-threatening condition.
Austyn and her husband Branden spent about a month at Texas Children's. There, doctors monitored Conrad in utero and got him as big as possible to be able to perform dialysis when he was born.
But at 35 weeks his heart rate started to dip and doctors performed an emergency C-section on December 15, 2021.
"He let out one small cry but was having trouble breathing," Austyn recalled. "It did not look good."
She met Carly Miller the night Conrad was born. The bubbly NICU nurse made an instant impression.
"In a moment filled with so much uncertainty and fear, she focused on the positives," Austyn said. "She kept saying how cute he was."
Texas Children's Hospital
After seven days in Carly's care, Conrad was put on the Carpediem, a "massive" state-of-the-art dialysis machine for low-birth weight infants. The treatment required moving to another hospital pod, away from Carly—an unthinkable thought.
"We couldn't imagine going without her," Austyn explained. "With a little convincing she decided to come with us."
Away from family and isolated amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the young parents shared milestones with Carly.
"It's a cold, intimidating machine, but Carly always brought light into the room," Austyn recalled. "She read to him and comforted him in ways I didn't know how. She taught me how to bathe him."
"Over the next six months we went through the best times and the worst times and she was there for all of it," she continued. "Even though we were so isolated we had someone that was there with it every step of the way."
On particularly difficult days, only Carly could comfort Conrad. Austyn says his face lit up and he started kicking his legs every time she walked into the room.
When Conrad was ready to leave the hospital after six months, Austyn felt the urge to ask Carly to be his godmother. The first time she came to visit them at home, they presented her with flowers and a note from Conrad asking her to be his godmother.
"She cried, I cried, Conrad laughed," Austyn recalled. "She said yes immediately."
She said Carly is never who she thought she would ask to be her son's godmother. But then again, she never imagined any of this.
"For me, it's all about faith," Austyn said. "Sometimes you meet people in life and these relationships just happen. It feels like it was meant to be. It feels like we've known her forever."
Texas Children's Hopsital
Conrad is still on dialysis and is approaching his first kidney transplant evaluation. Austyn said that Carly plans to get tested as a potential donor.
Click here to contribute to Conrad's transplant-related expenses.
"It's not anything we have to ask. It's all from her heart," she said. "She's just a great person."