A Newborn Hero

My son became a hero...before he was even born.

- Posted on Apr 20, 2010

The baby who helped save another baby.

Eli was early.

Several weeks before he was due, my wife Shelly was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia, and our baby needed to get out soon. Shelly was admitted to the hospital and an emergency c-section was scheduled.

Fortunately, our doctor had enough time to assemble an expert medical team, including a top neonatologist. He briefed them on my wife’s condition, the baby’s vitals, the plan for delivering my child safely.

But the time came for the operation, and the team wasn’t there. We waited. And waited. I paced back in forth in my wife’s hospital room, watching her look sicker and sicker. Where are they?

Finally, the team arrived and whisked Shelly to the OR. My anxiety eased a bit when the doctor told me my son was responsive and his heart rate and breathing were normal. He would be transferred to the NICU in a hospital across the river in Illinois for observation, but the doctor was optimistic our boy would come home with us soon.

Waiting for the transport, I noticed another baby being put into the ambulance, and another worried father looking on. “How are things going?” I asked.

“Better now,” he said. “But we had a rough delivery.”

At the NICU, the other father and I sat in the waiting room and bonded over our experience. “I almost lost my wife and son,” he told me. “But the second things turned bad, a team of people came to take my wife to the OR. They even had a top-notch neonatologist there. It was a miracle.”

Suddenly I knew what had taken Eli’s team so long. I told the father and we hugged.

His wife went in that day with no complications, no health issues. No reason to have a high-risk pregnancy medical team standing by. But the epidural had gone horribly wrong. Her heart stopped. The baby’s heart stopped. A code blue was called, but there was no time to assemble an emergency team.

But a team was there already, just leaving the scrub room. Eli’s team. He came to us early. And now I understood why.

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