September 11, 2008
Premature baby evacuated and his family reunited
Thursday, September 04, 2008
News staff writer
Jacola Collins describes leaving her premature baby in a New Orleans hospital as she and her family evacuated Saturday as heartbreak - the same heartbreak she felt in July, after giving birth and leaving the hospital without her baby.
Tulane University Medical Center was the family's last stop Saturday before heading to Collins' brother's house in Meridian, Miss., where she rode out Hurricane Gustav with her husband, 12-year-old son and mother.
Collins cleaned out her freezer of breast milk and dropped it off at the hospital for her son and told him goodbye.
"I said, `I love you,' and I got a chance to kiss him," Collins, 27, said Wednesday in Birmingham.
Twelve-week-old Josiah was evacuated to UAB Hospital Sunday night. Tulane didn't want to risk losing power and not being able to care for fragile newborns in its neonatal intensive-care unit.
In all, critical-care teams from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Children's Hospital flew to New Orleans twice and brought back 11 premature babies. UAB kept four of the babies, Trinity Medical Center took three, Princeton Baptist Medical Center got two and Shelby Baptist took two.
Collins' family reunited with baby Josiah on Tuesday.
"I wanted to squeeze him, but I knew I couldn't," Collins, of Gretna, La., said.
The family came back again from Meridian to see Josiah on Wednesday. In New Orleans, the parents visited him twice a day. The trip from Mississippi to Birmingham is a two-hour drive each way. The family is hoping to find housing here until they can all go home, which may be as early as this weekend.
Josiah Collins was born July 24, at 24 weeks' gestation by emergency Caesarean section after Collins' placenta separated from the uterine wall. He was 1 pound, 11 ounces at birth and now weighs 2 pounds, 4 ounces.
In New Orleans he had gotten off a ventilator, but was put back on one for the flight to Birmingham. He went back on the ventilator again Tuesday after his abdomen filled with gas, but the doctor taking care of him expects that to be a minor problem. The baby is in an incubator to stay warm.
"He's not critically ill," said Dr. Joe Philips, a UAB neonatologist. "He's been stable for the last 24 hours."
Philips said the baby is stable enough to go back to the Tulane hospital, but it's better to wait a few more days before such a trip. Philips expects Josiah to stay hospitalized for another four to six weeks. Although Josiah may later develop some motor problems, Philips is optimistic about the baby's future.
UAB and Children's made up the first critical-care transport team to get into New Orleans to evacuate premature babies after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Philips said the Gustav experience was much less dramatic and the transport was done in advance as a precaution.
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(I just wanted to post this article to remind ourselves about the personal struggles of individuals who are dealing with the many hurricaines this season and in years gone by. My son was born at 27 weeks gestation, weighing only 1.4 pounds at birth. He was in the NICU for 98 days, and my heart broke each night I had to leave him, alone, in that incubator. We pray for all the mothers & babies who are being evacuated, even now ~ for protection, healing, and a quick reunion.)