Every Morning Is A Good Morning for Zander.

Angie and Zander MAIN STORY IMAGE

Bright and early in the newsroom every morning at 3:30 a.m., WQAD-TV’s Good Morning Quad Cities’ news personality, Angie Sharp, jumpstarts her day so that local viewers tuning in can begin their own.

Morning shows produce a unique set of challenges: covering overnight or spot news and hazardous weather developments; ensuring a smooth production with an early morning crew; and for the on-air talent, doing so with every hair in place, every fact checked, and every story written down to the second; a relentless standard day in and day out.

2020 was a challenge in more ways than one

“Morning news is challenging enough, but airing a show during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak kicked it up a few notches,” recalls Angie. “After we were all sent to our basements to remotely deliver the news, at about one month into the pandemic I learned I was pregnant. My shift, 3:30 a.m. to noon, is exhausting enough, but now I had pregnancy fatigue to deal with! I luckily had a bathroom very close by for any close calls with morning sickness,” she laughs. “You definitely learn to be flexible and roll with the changes both on the air and off.”

As the year progressed, Angie rallied and soon had her new normal under control. And, right on schedule with the close of 2020, came her greatest blessing, a baby boy. Little did Angie know more surprises were to come.

“Zander was born three days before Christmas. After laboring at home, my husband, Zach, and I got to the hospital and learned that while the baby was originally positioned head first, he had turned into the breech position and was immediately delivered via emergency C-section.

“When they lifted him up, he was in a pike position, as in he was literally folded in half. His legs and ankles kept bouncing back to his shoulders and didn’t want to flatten out. At that moment, we knew he’d need to be evaluated.”

Pyevich New Headshot
Dr. Michael Pyevich, ORA Orthopedics

A follow-up ultrasound resulted in a referral to ORA Orthopedics’ Pediatric Surgeon, Dr. Michael Pyevich, who confirmed the diagnosis as slight hip dysplasia on Zander’s left hip.

“Dr. Pyevich is such an expert at what he does. He manipulated Zander’s legs and hips and he knew right away — his own hands could tell that one hip was looser than the other.”

“Hip dysplasia is a disorder that involves the ball and socket joint and can mean several scenarios for newborns,” explains Dr. Pyevich. “A hip may be unstable, the ball can pop in and out of the socket, or it is already completely out of its socket.”

Dr. Pyevich says that due to Zander’s breech birth, his left hip socket was unstable and diagnosed hip dysplasia after gently maneuvering the baby’s hips back and forth. “You could feel the hip going in and out of his socket.” After practicing pediatric orthopedics for more than two decades, he says hip dysplasia occurs in approximately 1 in 350 to 1,000 live births. “I have certainly seen my share of these cases as we treat several a year. What’s important is that the earlier it’s diagnosed, the greater chances for a complete recovery.”

Dr. Pyevich prescribed a Pavlik harness, a soft splint developed by a Russian physician in the mid 20th Century. The modern version features Velcro chest, shoulder, and leg straps to hold a baby’s legs in a position that allows a hip joint to be aligned and stable. Dr. Pyevich acknowledges that the startling sight of the harness often concerns parents, and Angie was no exception.

Zander’s harness was no problem

“My first reaction was, ‘Oh My God!’ Zander had seemed so normal to me, he wasn’t in pain and wasn’t favoring either leg, but I trusted Dr. Pyevich. I was so thankful we have an expert like him right here in the Quad Cities. I knew that we and Zander were literally in the ‘best hands possible.’”

Zander in Harness Exploring
Zander Sharp sports his Pavlik harness, commonly used to treat hip dysplasia in infants up to five months old. Zander wore the harness 24 hours a day for two months.

“The harness is more than 98 percent effective and, while wearing it, babies function absolutely normally without pain,” says Dr. Pyevich. “They sleep, eat, and live in it 24 hours a day for 12 weeks, and parents only remove it for bathing. The harness works and must be prescribed for infants by four to five months of age. After that, a hip, even one with dysplasia, stabilizes. If left untreated, it likely becomes arthritic, painful, and may require a hip replacement in adulthood. It’s absolutely the right course for infants.”

“We left the office with his little harness on, and to be honest, I was pretty anxious about it,” recalls Angie. “It’s harder on the parents than the child. He doesn’t know what’s going on. For me, I felt intimidated with this treatment. It was all just a shock with all the emotions, and I kept thinking, ‘Thank goodness we had this checked out!’”

Zander wore the harness with no problems. “Dr. Pyevich assured me it wouldn’t bother him and he was right. It’s really soft and flexible, so he could straighten his legs. To us, he looked like he was trapped, but after a couple of days, we barely noticed it. We cuddled him, and it really looked worse than it was.”

Three and a half months later, Zander successfully completed the treatment, and Angie has noticed a big difference. “Now that he’s out, it’s tummy time! He straightens his legs, bike kicks, and is starting to roll over — all of those milestones we have waited for.”

“The prognosis for babies like Zander is excellent,” adds Dr. Pyevich. “Once the harness is off, I want to see completely normal hips by 18 months to two years of age. It is so critical to diagnose the disorder at birth. Kids won’t remember and they’ll have 100% normal hips. We’ll continue to follow up with Zander until he’s two years old, and he has an excellent chance for complete recovery with no physical restrictions whatsoever.”

“Just hearing that Zander successfully completed the treatment was music to my ears,” adds Angie. “It’s like they said, ‘Go and enjoy your baby!’ It really did work. When he’s your first, it’s harder on a parent’s emotions. I know that Zander will move better for the rest of his life. We did the work now and it makes all the difference.

“I knew we would get through this.”

Angie and Zander on the Ottoman
Zander Sharp’s prognosis is excellent. He is expected to make a full recovery with normal hip and leg movement without any restrictions moving forward as he grows into adulthood.

Back to normal and on the move

With Zander ready to go, Angie has resumed her hectic on-air duties with Good Morning Quad Cities, but with a renewed appreciation for working parents and a level of strength she didn’t know she had. “I am definitely rebooting my own life. Now we have another new normal. I’m at work, and it’s so exciting. This norm is going to be awesome. We are excited for all the milestones and memories coming our way!

“I am so grateful for all of the care. Every single person at ORA, from the gentleman who took our temperatures at the door to ensure we were safe, to the receptionists, as well as Dr. Pyevich’s entire team, every single person has been so friendly, so professional. We can’t thank them enough for their kindness. Throughout this experience, I have learned that, along with help and encouragement from others, parents develop a special capability to be truly strong for your child.”