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At 25 weeks into her pregnancy, Cindy Lambert’s doctor prescribed some medicine for her unusually high blood pressure. At 29 weeks, she continued to have dangerously high blood pressure and an ultra-sound revealed that her baby was less than two pounds. The baby was underdeveloped because it was not receiving the necessary nutrients. Cindy’s umbilical vessels were constricted, causing the baby’s malnutrition, as well as her high blood pressure. Her doctor warned her that either she or her baby would die unless they performed a cesarean section as soon as possible.
On February 22nd, weighing only 910 grams, baby Blake was born at The Jewish General Hospital, and to everyone’s amazement, was able to breathe without any assistance (unusual for a baby born so premature). However, as is often the case with premature babies, problems began occurring later on. Blake’s small intestine began swelling and he was immediately rushed to The Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which would become his new home for the following three months.
Thankfully Blake’s small intestine was not perforated, meaning he would not require surgery, however, because it was so underdeveloped, Blake could not digest any food. He was diagnosed with NEC (necrotizing entercolitis), which caused his abdomen to distend and his stools to be bloody. To save his intestine, Blake had to be fed intravenously, even though this posed a risk to his liver and spleen. For the next three months, Blake became very jaundiced, endured several infections, received a number of blood transfusions, and even underwent a minor surgery for a double hernia that was brought on due to the pressure created from his distended abdomen combined with the contraction of his muscles from crying so hard.
Ron and Cindy’s experience with Blake happened so suddenly that they barely had a chance to reflect upon what they were going through. Thankfully, they were very familiar with The Children’s since they volunteered there in 2004 and 2005. Every Friday night they spent time playing with kids, rocking babies, and chatting with teens. When they look back on this experience they feel they got so much more out of it than they gave. “We always thought about the parents and how hard it must be to see your baby hooked up to all kinds of machines, now we found ourselves in their position,” says Cindy.
While Blake has experienced unimaginable physical pain and discomfort, he has also suffered intense fear while going through his ordeal. One time, while going to receive a standard upper GI procedure, Blake became so scared that his mother thought his heart might stop beating. She had decided he could not safely continue the procedure, until Blake’s doctor, Dr. Robert Brouillette, made an unexpected visit and reassured Blake and his mother. They then underwent the complete procedure accompanied with Dr. Brouillette. “Although they are so busy, the staff at The Children’s never seem rushed, they always take the time to be compassionate,” says Cindy.
Blake’s father Ron was also touched by the level care they received at The Children’s. When Blake was being discharged, one of the nurses, who happened to live a few streets away from he and Cindy, gave him her home phone number and said that they could call her at any time, even in the middle of the night, in case they needed anything. “They treat Blake like their own child”, says Ron.
He has a long way to go, but Blake is now on the road to recovery. At the request of the nutritionist at The Children’s, he has begun taking milk which he manages to digest properly. He is now well over seven pounds, and continues gaining his target, twenty grams per day. Blake was discharged on June 15th but continues regular visits to the Hospital to monitor his progress. Blake’s introduction into this world has been a continuous and seemingly endless struggle. But this baby’s strength and resolve, coupled with the excellent care he received, will soon pay off, and he may begin enjoying all the gifts life has to offer.