Baby Brother Campbell’s Story and Baby Brother Joseph’s Survival Story

May 29th, 2012 by Laura Martin

On October 31, 2009, our twin boys, Joseph and Campbell, were born at 24 weeks gestation. Campbell passed away after 23 beautiful days of life as a result of bowel perforations caused by a medication he received.

Joseph spent 228 days in the NICU before coming home on June 15, 2010.

We were slated to bring Joseph home on April 12, 2010 at five and a half months of age. On April 10, just two days before, we received a call from the hospital that Joseph was gray, bloated and they had placed him on a ventilator. How could this be?! The day before, we had spent the entire afternoon and evening with him. We knew he wasn’t feeling well and the doctors had ordered a septic work up but never, ever did we dream he would be on a ventilator the next morning after being on minimal oxygen.

This couldn’t be happening. We had everything set up at home to bring him home that week. We had already buried one child and I feared we would be burying another.

The hours on that Saturday wore on and on. Joseph became more and more bloated and required more and more support from the ventilator. His x-rays were blurry but his intestines had not perforated. We met with the surgeon that night. He gave us all of the grim statistics. If we do surgery and he lives, he will spend so much of his life on TPN that he will die by the age of two waiting on a liver transplant. If we do surgery, there may be no intestine to save.

We decided to wait until morning.

My husband and I went home to try and sleep for a couple of hours. I called the hospital at 5 am and Joseph was slowly becoming more and more bloated. We headed straight to the hospital and told our families to meet us there. When we walked in the NICU, the surgeon had a cup of coffee in his right hand, his left hand on his hip, and was staring at x-rays. I knew they were Joseph’s.

He saw us and said, “We have to do surgery now. His labs are stable and if we don’t take him in now, he may crash. I’m not sure what we will find.”

As our families lined the hallway of the NICU, we followed Joseph and the surgery team to the operating room. We said our goodbyes and feared we wouldn’t see him again. No parent should have to bury a child, let alone two children.

After what seemed like an eternity, the surgeon came to talk to us. Joseph had only 41 cm of salvageable small intestine. Everything else was completely gangrenous. Because he had the minimum amount of intestine to survive, the surgeon gave us the option of closing Joseph up and letting him go. He then looked at us and said, “I don’t know you very well but I know you, and he, are fighters. I would give him a chance.” Of course! For us, there was no option but to give him a chance. Joseph’s twin brother never had a chance of survival but Joseph did.

The surgeon left to finish the surgery and we were able to see Joseph several hours later. We were suddenly thrust from the mind set of going home to knowing we would be in the hospital even longer.

A month later, much quicker than anyone anticipated, Joseph had in intestinal reconnect surgery. Almost one month to the day after his reconnect, Joseph came home for the first time on June 15, 2010 after 228 days in the NICU.

The doctors removed Joseph’s port and took him off TPN the day before coming home. He came home on continuous g-tube feeds. Today, he still has his g-tube and requires continuous feeds at night and during naps. He is learning to take food by mouth and is doing remarkably well.

Joseph is a miracle. It is still a mystery how and why he had NEC at five and a half months of age (almost eight weeks adjusted). It is still a miracle how how and why he is doing so well on such minimal small intestine.

We are blessed.

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One response to “Baby Brother Campbell’s Story and Baby Brother Joseph’s Survival Story”

  1. yvonne says:

    I have a photo of my daughter that looks like the one you posted with all the tubes- she will be 23 this year- and just got engaged– feel free to contact me with any questions you may have- Thank you for your story- and I am so sorry for your loss

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