Elizabeth Scearce of Martin, Tennessee was having an easy first pregnancy. But when she went for her routine 36-week ultrasound, her physician discovered that her baby had fluid around his heart and lungs.
Her OB-GYN immediately sent her to a hospital in Jackson, where another ultrasound was performed. They told her the baby needed to be born immediately via c-section. There was just one catch: It had to be done at a properly equipped neonatal unit.
With family in Memphis, they soon found themselves at Regional One Health. “We assumed the baby would be born there and then transferred to a pediatric hospital,” Elizabeth says. “We didn’t know about their neonatal ICU.”
Like many people, the Scearces knew of Regional One Health primarily as a trauma hospital. In fact, the Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center is one of the oldest and largest neonatal intensive care units in the United States. Approximately 4,500 babies are born here each year, and more than 1,300 premature and critically ill newborns are treated.
“The day after we arrived, they performed an emergency c-section,” Elizabeth recalls. “Our baby wasn’t breathing. He didn’t cry. He was swollen from all the fluid in his body.”
A whole team of neonatal doctors, nurses and technicians sprang into action. “They immediately put him on a ventilator. Then they put a tube in his chest to drain out the fluid.”
Within 24 hours, Elizabeth says, she and her husband Robert could see a dramatic turnaround. Most of the fluid was gone and the swelling had subsided. By the second day, their son Reid was breathing on his own.
“They just took wonderful care of us,” Elizabeth says. “All the neonatal doctors and nurses were great. They kept us updated every day, and they were just so encouraging to us all the way through the time we were there.”
Reid stayed in the Newborn Center for 12 days. The Scearces were pleased to find that they could visit with him as much as they wanted to during the day. Breast feeding stations allowed privacy when needed. When they left, he was behaving like any newborn.
And today? Elizabeth says there have been no residual effects from the complications. “He’s eight-and-a-half months old now and doing great. You can’t even see the scar where they had the tube in his chest.”
“We’re very thankful,” she adds. “I just feel like we owe so much to all the staff there for saving Reid’s life. There’s no doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Regional One Health.”