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Emily's story

Emily

Born unexpectedly at just 24 ½ weeks and weighing in at a dangerous 1 pound, 8 ounces, Emily Baker’s premature birth came with many serious complications.

In an immediate state of respiratory distress, Emily was placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Janet Weis Children's Hospital at Geisinger in Danville. Over the course of the next several months, Emily would be in for a fight for her life.

“She required a lot of resuscitation and some CPR and airway support, but we were able to stabilize her and transport her back to the NICU, where we were able to continue her care,” said James Cook, M.D., Director of Neonatology at Geisinger.

Emily was diagnosed with lung disease as a result of prematurity and was immediately placed on a ventilator. Emily was placed on a nebulizer and was given stimulants often to help with her breathing. She was given six different medicines and oxygen to help treat her conditions. Along with severe respiratory impairments, the infant developed two small brain hemorrhages.

Emily stopped breathing often. Her heart and lung monitors went off constantly. Like a “chain reaction” of medical problems, Emily’s kidneys were compromised because of the medicine she was given to treat her other issues. Hooked up to countless machines, a very sick little Emily spent the first four months of her life in the NICU, making her parents Gloria and Jim very nervous.

“It was extremely nerve wracking. Scary,” Gloria said. “For the first month, we didn’t sleep through the night. The alarms kept going off which meant she had stopped breathing.”

Dr. Cook and many others stuck by Emily’s side and continued to do their very best to treat her dangerous condition.

“The overwhelming majority of babies born at this age, requiring the amount of resuscitation in the situation in which Emily was born, would either not survive at all or suffer very serious neurologic consequences,” Dr. Cook said.

The staff worked hard to treat Emily, and with their continuous effort and advanced equipment, her health began to improve. After a few months she was released from the hospital. The Bakers spent a whole day learning how to accommodate Emily’s needs while at home. The two soon realized the great responsibilities they faced as they prepared to take their daughter home.

“When we came home, we looked at our precious daughter and immediately realized that her life depended on us. We knew we needed to completely understand all of her medical requirements,” Gloria said. “Thankfully, the hospital staff did a wonderful job teaching us and supporting us.”

Shortly after her departure from the hospital, Emily was taken off oxygen and monitors and was weaned off her medication. Even though she would be closely followed by her doctors as she grows, Emily was finished with all scheduled medical appointments in April 2011.

Today, a constantly smiling Emily Baker is a healthy four-year-old preschooler with a fascination with fairies, basketball and running. Emily is always on the go. In fact, those who know Emily best say “she never sits still”. Jim and Gloria look at their active young daughter and are so grateful for all the help, love, and support they’ve received over the years from the hospital’s staff members. Although they know Emily’s good health is in fact a miracle, they attribute her progress to the care received at Janet Weis Children’s Hospital at Geisinger.

“The support that we got from that hospital was unbelievable. Even with the tiniest concern, they were so helpful,” Jim said. “They always treated her like their own child and always knew her name”.

Dr. Cook is particularly astonished that she was able to grow so healthy after the circumstances of her early delivery.

“I’m amazed at the progress Emily has made”, said Dr. Cook. “Some healthy born babies don’t even develop at Emily’s rate.  She is truly a miracle.”

In cases like Emily’s, Dr. Cook especially appreciates the work that Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger does to help fund and support the children’s hospital.

“Money raised by Children’s Miracle Network helps us keep up with all of the highly technical equipment that is needed to treat babies like Emily”, he’s said. “The ventilator we used to keep Emily alive is priced at $40,000-$50,000. This necessary piece of equipment wouldn’t be available to us if it wasn’t for their help. The funds we receive through them are part of the reason babies like Emily make it through such tough times.”

MK 2012: Emily

Emily of Springville was born premature at 24 weeks and weighed only 1 pound, 8 ounces. She suffered two brain hemorrages and spent 4 months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.