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Fiona the hippo and this human infant have a lot in common

Posted at 6:09 AM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 08:16:03-05

CINCINNATI -- It's no secret that Fiona the hippo faced tough early days when she was born premature. 

But there are other, human, premies going through a similar ordeal. One-year-old Reid Wolfer was one of them, though one wouldn't guess it looking at him now.

Reid was born premature and unable to eat.

"It was 11 surgeries of them removing his intestines and then getting him to a place where he is now, where he's connected and able to survive," his mom, Beth Wolfer, said. 

Reid had a team treating him at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. 

"The staff at Children's was amazing," Wolfer said. 

A port in Reid's chest feeds him intravenously. The experts at the hospital also helped Fiona. Nurse Blake Gustafson recalled how the hippo was doing well until she started teething. Fiona then stopped eating and became dehydrated. They used mobile ultrasound  equipment to find a vein and put in an IV.

Reid's mom saw the parallel between the two cases.

"Watching this little hippo, kind of the same thing," Wolfer said. "I was rooting her on as if I was Reid. You know, they had the same doctors. I'm getting emotional thinking about it."

A year on, both babies are doing well. Reid still receives nourishment through his port. His mom is hopeful a solution can be found so that he can one day eat. 

The family is planning a trip to the zoo so that Reid can see Fiona up close.