Josephine Rose was born on a Monday at our local hospital in Waterloo. She was our “rainbow baby”- a term used to describe the first living baby after a stillborn or miscarriage. When she was delivered, she made no noise. She entered the world unresponsive and in complete organ failure. She was diagnosed with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy of a Newborn. With the exception of her heart, all her body had either shut down or was in the rapid process of failing. After 15 long minutes, Josie’s body started to respond. However, her body began to seize uncontrollably, and very intensely. Some of the initial medication were not successful in relieving the seizing. The NICU staff knew that Josie needed greater care than for what they could provide.
Fortunately, the nurse manager had heard of a specialized treatment offered at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital that would possibly have a chance of stabilizing Josie. After making some phone calls, it was discovered that the treatment would only have a shot of being successful if it was started within six hours of birth. The hospital where Josie was born in was an hour and a half away via driving. The only way to get her down to the hospital and try this specialized treatment was to transport via medical helicopter, equipped and certified to hand such a tiny and critical patient.
We were blessed that the ONLY medical helicopter in the state trained and capable of making such of a trip was available! It took a running trip throughout the entire hospital to the reserve takeoff pad (the main pad which is close to the labor/delivery floor was occupied), but we sent her on her first trip at a mere three hours old, only with a hope and a prayer. The team at the U were ready for her and successfully began her treatment within the six-hour window.
Kiddos like Josie who are not able to have this treatment start soon enough or at all face a long battle- typically they are unable to walk, talk, and have severe sight and hearing issues. They are unable to eat food conventionally, with all their nutrients been given to them via a tube. They are bound to needing 24-hour care, confined to a wheelchair, and face a very grim long-term outlook. Many kiddos with the severe case of HIE similar to Josie would simply not have made it- the mortality rate is nearly 80%.
Having a medical helicopter available to transport kiddos truly is life-changing. It is the difference between celebrating princess birthdays and tearing apart families. Our family will forever be grateful to the team at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children Hospital for their life-changing resources for our true miracle rainbow baby.