Three-year-old Jude Reabuck laughs and makes goofy faces at everyone he passes while running around the table. It is hard to believe that this energetic and blissfully happy young boy battled a life-threatening condition when he was born at only 27 weeks weighing 2 pounds, 3 ounces.
Jude’s parents, Edward and Karen Reabuck of Dallas, Pa, had spent five weeks in Labor and Delivery at Geisinger Medical Center trying to delay his premature birth. Jude was born on Dec. 17, 2009. He was taken immediately to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, where he had a brain bleed, a collapsed lung and three surgeries within the first three weeks of his life.
“He developed a life-threatening illness called necrotizing enterocollitis, which has a 50 percent mortality rate for preemies who need removal of part of their intestines due to their condition,” said Dr. Everett, D.O., Neonatologist at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger. Jude did have to have a fourth surgery to have a portion of his small intestines surgically removed in order to have a chance at becoming healthy.
At the end of February, right before Jude was going to be discharged, his broviac IV line became infected. He developed sepsis, a serious bloodstream infection, that resulted in his remaining in the hospital another month.
After a long 104 days, Jude was able to go home on April 3, 2010 on medications but no monitors. Karen recalls how Jude challenged everyone’s patience by healing in his own time, as he did not always heal or react to treatments as quickly as expected.
Jude still sees Dr. Eduardo Tron, D.O., a pediatric gastroenterologist at Geisinger, for checkups. He is deficient in certain vitamins because of the re-section of his intestine, but overall is a happy and healthy young boy. However, for Jude’s parents the feeling of being scared and overwhelmed is not forgotten.
Choking back tears and gathering the courage to utter his greatest fear, Ed says, “I still get very emotional. I thought for sure we were going to lose him. He was read his last rights. Our heads were spinning from all of the information.”
Dr. Everett understood both Ed and Karen’s fears, but often offered reassurance.
“I sat next to Jude’s bedside with Karen and reassured her that we had a great NICU staff, the best clinicians, and excellent programs, and that he would take time to heal.”
Karen looks back on her experience at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, and explains how the staff helped both Ed and her along the way. She remembers it as “the best and worst experience, if that’s possible. The nurses were amazing…he was in the best place he could’ve possibly been.”
Today, Jude loves the color blue, Toy Story®, drawing, cupcakes and popcorn. Both Ed and Karen are so thankful for the care Jude received, and attribute Jude’s current health to just that.
During their lengthy stay, Karen and Ed were always reassured that Jude was in the best hands. From the rocking chair where Karen would sit and hold her son, to the isolettes where Jude was cared for, there was often a “purchased by Children’s Miracle Network” sticker reminding them of the support that Children’s Miracle Network provides the NICU at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital.
Karen considers Janet Weis Children’s Hospital as “the best possible place to have the worst possible things happen.”
Children’s Miracle Network donations are used to provide monitoring equipment, ventilators and warmers for patients like Jude.