The Berken Family - A Story of Faith


I was 17 weeks pregnant with my daughter Faith when my water broke. Because it was so early in the pregnancy, my husband Jason and I had very little hope.

At 24 weeks, I delivered Faith via an emergency c-section. The odds were not in her favor, but Faith showed she was a fighter from the beginning. After spending 11 months in two different neonatal intensive care units (NICU) across the state, we were finally able to bring Faith to our home in Lake Arthur, La., in September 2016, where she was welcomed by her five siblings.

We were so thankful to finally have her home, but there were still obstacles. Because of her condition, she came home with a feeding tube, a tracheostomy to help her breathe and a ventilator. Faith’s condition began to improve in some ways, but there still wasn’t much progress in the way of her lung disease.

In February 2017, she was also diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Despite these challenges, we remained hopeful and decided to seek out a second opinion. Someone recommended Dr. Brad Culotta, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, so we scheduled an appointment. From the moment we met him, Faith fell in love with his sweet spirit. Dr. Culotta was amazing with her and very patient with our questions.

As we pursued treatment options for Faith’s hip, we hoped to avoid surgery, but it soon became clear that was the only option. My husband and I felt heartbroken that Faith would have to undergo the procedure at such a young age.

Given Faith’s medical history and struggle with lung disease, Dr. Culotta wanted someone on hand who was familiar with her respiratory status when he performed the hip surgery. He recommended we visit one of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital pulmonologists, Dr. Andres Carrion.

We somewhat reluctantly made an appointment -- we were nervous about bringing in another physician in with her medical complexities. But our fears quickly subsided. Meeting Dr. Carrion was such a breath of fresh air! He, too, won Faith's heart. He was so positive and certain that he could get her off of the ventilator.

In the meantime, while preparing for her hip surgery, we faced another setback - her feeding tube broke. We felt like we couldn’t catch a break, but we were introduced to Dr. J. Brannon Alberty, pediatric gastroenterologist also with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. And again, we were blown away by the positive impression he made on us. Drs. Culotta, Carrion and Alberty all worked together the morning of Faith's surgery to make sure everything Faith needed that day was done.

They adjusted their schedules to provide Faith with top-notch care, knowing that it was best to only put her under anesthesia once, instead of multiple times. It was clear they wanted to make sure our little girl received the best possible care.

The team took great care of us from the moment we walked into the hospital to pre-admit her for surgery, to keeping us posted during surgery and overseeing a smooth transition to the PICU. In addition to her procedure, she has also had sleep and swallow studies. Because of their great service, we have now switched all of Faith’s care over to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. We’ve even added another specialist to the mix, Dr. Chantal Lutfallah, a pediatric endocrinologist, who is working diligently to get Faith off of a steroid that she has been on for over a year now.

We have been overwhelmingly impressed as the parents of a new patient at Our Lady of the Lady Children’s Hospital, and we are so grateful for the love and concern shown for our daughter.

We are so thankful and feel so blessed by the doctors, hospital and team members. Though we live a little over two hours away from Baton Rouge, we wouldn't make the drive anywhere else.

We thank God that He continues to provide Faith with the best doctors, and we thank God for Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital!