AURORA, Colo. -- It was a Yellow cab SUV big enough to hold a high-tech stroller, equipped with a ventilator, that brought Savannah McCullough home on Tuesday.
“There were times we didn't know if she was going to make it," said her mother, Amber McCullough.
Exactly 11 months to the day she was born, Savannah was released from Children’s Hospital Colorado.
She was born a conjoined twin on Aug. 26, 2015. She was separated at birth in all-day surgery from her twin Olivia, who was born without vital organs and died during a surgery. Doctors knew she couldn’t survive.
Savannah’s survival made big news in December when her mother’s visitation was restricted by Children’s Hospital Colorado one day after she filed complaints with state and federal agencies against the hospital over treatment issues.
McCullough credits reporting from FOX31 Denver with getting her visitation fully restored and on Tuesday, she celebrated holding her daughter at home for the first time.
“It's unreal. I'm just very thankful,” McCullough said.
She said she separated from Savannah’s father after he refused to support her decision to give birth to conjoined twins. In October, McCullough reconciled with Chad Olsen, the father of her 7-year-old son Tristan, and together they are raising a blended family.
“(Savannah) makes you realize the important things in life. She deserves a dad,” Olson said.
“I think the most important thing I can emphasize for her is confidence. There's a reason I don't cover her third leg. It's hers and I love it as much as I love every other piece of her,” McCullough said, referring to Savannah’s fifth limb.
The 11-month-old still lives with part of her sister’s rib cage, which will mean additional surgery in a few years. She requires a nurse five nights a week, but there is hope she will breathe on her own one day, maybe even walk on her own.
"People coming up to her and saying 'poor baby,' and I think it's very important to correct them and say, 'No not poor baby, miracle baby,'” McCullough said.
Savannah is already learning sign language. Her mom plans to let her try a cupcake on her first birthday next month.
As for McCullough's legal battles with Children’s Hospital Colorado, she has hired an attorney with the intention of suing the hospital for temporarily restricting her visiting hours.
Her complaints with the State Health Department, the Department of Civil Rights and the Joint Commission are all still under investigation.
In a statement, Children’s Hospital Colorado said, "Our goal is to help patients get home.”AlertMe