Born too early, Carson infant celebrates one-year milestone |

Born too early, Carson infant celebrates one-year milestone

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Alison Roylance holds her daughter Raychel over her birthday cake celebrating her first birthday while friends, family and Washoe Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit nurses watch on Saturday at Roxy Brewer's Carson City home. Raychel was born at 27 weeks, weighing 1 pound 10 ounces.

She’s their little miracle.

Saturday afternoon, several of her family members struggled to suppress tears as they watched a video of her first year of life.

But Raychel Roylance, the miracle, bobbed up and down in the sturdy hands of her dad, James, not knowing that everyone at the home was celebrating her first birthday.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said her mom, Alison. “It’s pretty amazing that I have a baby and that I have a baby doing so well considering the circumstances.”

That’s because in her third trimester of pregnancy, Alison was diagnosed with a syndrome called HELLP – Hemolysis, Elevated Liver, Low Platelet. The disease, which occurs in fewer than 1 percent of pregnant women, damages the liver.

“To save both of our lives, we had to deliver Raychel,” Alison said. “(HELLP) is a pregnancy-induced thing and the only cure is to deliver the baby.”

When Raychel was born premature Sept. 24, 2004, at 27 weeks, she weighed 1 pound, 10 ounces. A wedding ring could slide all the way up her tiny arm to her shoulder and there’s a framed picture showing it.

“I think it’s wonderful we made it to her first birthday,” said Raychel’s great-grandmother, Dorothy Brewer, who came for the party. “She’s interested in everything.”

A year ago, the story wasn’t the same. Raychel was in the neonatal intensive care unit at Washoe Medical Center. Many of her doctors didn’t think she would survive, but she stayed there for nearly four months and was visited daily by her mom. Three treatments of steroids, though risky, helped her improve.

“The nurses said (she was) really feisty,” Alison said. “The nurses said (she was) a real fighter. The nurses said (she was) a princess.”

They also said that when Alison ran late for a daily visit from Carson City, her little baby knew, because Raychel’s vital signs increased.

“A lot of the doctors didn’t believe she had what it took,” said her grandma, Roxy Brewer. “Alison even had doctors telling her ‘You take this baby home and she will die.'”

But little Raychel did come home a couple days after New Year’s 2005. And part of her treatment was constant monitoring of her signs and extra oxygen.

Nowadays, Raychel has improved and receives oxygen less and less. She seems a happy child, much-loved and has developed a good playing relationship with the remote control, family says. Her grandmother, Roxy, is simply proud her granddaughter is celebrating a first birthday.

“She is just our little miracle,” she said. “She has had an incredible life and incredible story.”

— Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.


For more on HELLP, see or on the Internet.