He's a Miracle
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EARL ROSS Craft Jr. is 6 months old, but he weighs only 7 pounds, 14 ounces. However, the fact that he is alive and getting strong-er at all is a miracle'** modern medicine. Had he been born only a few years ago, Ross would not have survived. J J His 20-year-old parents, Earl and Sheryl Craft of Princeton, talked recently about Ross's premature birth and their experiences. Twenty-nine weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs. Craft was rushed to LSU Medical Center at 6 a.m. At 10:55 a.m., Ross was delivered by Caesarean section. Tox-emia had caused the placenta to separate from the womb prematurely. Both the lives of Sheryl and her baby were in danger. Ross weighed 2 pounds, 7 ounces at birth, but later dropped to 2 pounds even. "At first I was afraid of losing both of them, then I was afraid of losing her, then him," Craft remembered. "You're happy you have a live baby boy you've waited for, and then you're scared you might lose your wife and might lose your son too." Once Mrs. Craft was out of danger, Craft was eager to see his son, but his wife was apprehensive. "I didn't want to see him after they told me how small and sick he was," she said. "I had it in my mind he was going to die, so I didn't want to see him." Three days later, Craft forced his wife to go to the neonatal intensive care unit to see their son. "When I first saw him, I was shocked," she said. Craft was quick to take up for his wife, though. "She was thrown into a situation where she didn't know what was going on in her body, she'd had a C-sec-tion, and then you see this small piece of flesh...." he said. "You've seen other fat juicy babies and they're (premature babies) not what you've expected." "He had all these tubes on him. You don't want to see that on your baby," Mrs. Craft said. She soon got over her apprehension, though. "The sad thing is a lot of parents don't want them after they see them," she said. Going home a week later without Ross was difficult. "When we left the hospital, it was almost like we lost the baby," Mrs. Craft said. The Crafts said they have almost lost their baby sev-eral times since then, but the NICU doctors, nurses and technologists have managed to save him each time through such means as surgery and medication. And even though the Crafts hope to be able to bring their son home within a few weeks, he is not out of danger yet. Because his lungs were not fully developed before his birth, Ross will still need to be administered oxygen once he is at home. He'll also be especially susceptible to respiratory ailments, so visitors will have to be ex-tremely limited. For Ross, a cold could be fatal, Craft said. But Ross is lucky. In spite of his premature birth and all of his problems, as far as the Crafts know now, he is not brain damaged. If he can make it to 3 years old, he has a good chance of living a normal life. The Crafts are looking forward to the time they can have their son home with them, in spite of the constant attention he will require. "I want to do it," Mrs. Craft said. "I'm not afraid of the responsibility, but I'm afraid something might hap-pen once he comes home." And although the couple and their baby have already been through a lot of pain and likely have more ahead, the Crafts say they have never thought that it would have been better if Ross had not survived. "Ross was sick, but I don't care how sick he is, you can't give up on him," Mrs. Craft said. "A child, no matter what age, is still a child," Craft said. "Until the time God says that child should die, the child should live." He's a miracle Preemie Earl Ross Craft Jr. lives due to advances made in modern medicine Stories by KATHIE COFFEY Photos by BILLY UPSHAW LSUMC: The fight for life goes on here Tiny wrinkled babies with limbs no bigger than a man's finger lie in beds all around LSU Medical Center's neonatal intensive care unit. Some are at-tached to machines that, help them breathe. Monitors show breathing patterns, heart rate and blood pressure. Brightly colored stuffed toys sit in bed corners. "We treat them like babies, not as things," said Dr. Arun Pramanik, as pink-gowned physicians, nurses and other health care professionals made their way be-tween the beds checking on their little patients. According to Pramanik, associate professor of pedi-atrics, and chief, section of neonatology, the smallest baby the medical center has been able to save weighed - 1 pound, 2 ounces, at birth. At LSUMC, Pramanik said babies who weigh be-tween 1 pound and 1 pound 10 ounces at birth have be-tween a 25 and 40 percent chance of surviving. Ten years ago — and in some places today — babies that small would not have had a chance, he said. Credit for the steps taken in neonatal care go to both advancing medical knowledge and technology. Pramanik said the No. 1 problem premature babies face is breathing. Because their lungs are not fully de-veloped at birth, they may have to be placed on ven-tilators. However, Pramanik said it is essential to give the baby just the right amount of oxygen to avoid lung damage and prevent blindness. As a precautionary measure, a special machine continuously monitors ox-ygen and carbon dioxide in the baby. Pramanik said a drug that may help mature a baby's lungs is being researched. Another problem common to very small premature babies involves the failure of a heart vessel called the ductus arteriosus to close. If the vessel remains open after birth, the lungs could become flooded with blood. Should medication not correct the problem, surgery could be necessary. In good hands, Pramanik said, the surgery takes only about 15 minutes. Sometimes the premature baby will suffer bleeding in the brain, perhaps caused by the stress of labor, Pramanik said. After birth, ultrasound tests are taken and if any bleeding is noticed the baby is monitored carefully. Excessive bleeding could compress and damage the brain. Pramanik said the baby could re-quire very delicate surgery to stop the bleeding. The baby may also face problems because of im-mature kidneys and liver. Pramanik said the liver could produce a chemical that causes brain damage. An exchange transfusion may be necessary to get rid of it. Treating the NICU babies is complicated, though, by their very size. Pramanik said miniature IV pumps de-liver microdrops instead of drops, blood tests are done in microsamples, and medications are administered in reduced dosages. Pramanik stressed the need for team work in suc-cessful neonatal care. While physicians, nurses, respir-atory therapists, and other health care professionals work with the infants, medical social workers counsel parents. He said parents of premature babies should realize that their child may not function at its chronological age. Sheryl and Earl Craft (left) hold their 6-month-old son Ross. The tiny hand of Earl Ross Craft Jr. (left) is dwarfed by his parent's. Ross was born nearly three months premature.
|Title||He's a Miracle|
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center - Shreveport)
Pramanik, Arun K.
Craft, Earl Ross, Jr.
Craft, Earl Ross, Sr.
|Identifier||See reference URL on the navigation bar.|
|Source||Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport Medical Library (http://lib.sh.lsuhsc.edu)|
|Coverage-Spatial||Shreveport (Caddo, La.)|
|Rights||Physical rights are retained by Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.|