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New parents, baby managed to weather big storm, icy ride

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



NAPERVILLE — Mom-to-be Lilia Perez and dad-to-be Juan Leal of Plano knew nothing about Naperville’s Edward Hospital on Feb. 1.

But that changed dramatically on Feb. 2, when in the midst of the Blizzard of 2011, Abraham Isaiah decided to join the world five weeks early.

Lilia, 23, went into labor at 6:50 p.m. that Tuesday, just when the huge snow storm was starting to impact the Kendall County area. The 5½-mile trip from their home in Plano to Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich normally takes about 15 minutes. Rapidly deteriorating roads made it a nerve-racking 30-minute trip.

“It was pretty scary,” Lilia recalled. “Since it was my first baby, I didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

Lilia and Juan, 28, made it to Valley West safely and Abraham was delivered at 3:15 the next afternoon. He weighed 5 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 inches long. But since he was born at 35 weeks, five weeks premature, he faced the risk of respiratory problems because his lungs weren’t yet fully developed.

“He was breathing hard,” said Lilia. “That was tough to see.”

Valley West, a Level II maternal and newborn facility, contacted Edward, which has a Level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU), to transfer Abraham there in the event he needed advanced respiratory care. Level III means Edward can care for all babies, regardless of how small they are or the conditions they have.

Edward’s Maternal/Neonatal Transport Team has a dedicated ambulance on site to transfer women in high-risk pregnancy situations and premature infants who need neonatal specialists. The Transport Team drove to Sandwich on that Wednesday night on treacherous, snow-packed roads, picked up Abraham and brought him back to Edward’s NICU.

“Kudos to Valley West, because you can’t wait until a baby’s taken a turn for the worse to pursue a higher level of care. Otherwise it may be too late,” said Dr. Bob Covert, medical director of Edward’s NICU.

Abraham was given oxygen as Edward’s NICU team monitored his condition to determine if more advanced treatment was necessary. But Abraham got better on his own overnight, something doctors call a “spontaneous recovery.” Within two days, he was off oxygen, breathing on his own.

“When I saw him, he was more calm, a whole different baby. He looked very peaceful,” said mom Lilia. “ ... I saw changes every day, saw him progress every day. He’s a little fighter.”

Once Abraham’s breathing stabilized, doctors kept him a few more days to monitor the development of his sucking ability so he could get proper nutrition. He left Edward on Feb. 10, after an eight-day stay in the NICU.

”We’re very happy to have him home,” his dad said. “We have a lot to look forward to. Everything is a blessing.”



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