KERA News shared an interesting story this week summarizing a new book by a father about dealing with his daughter’s extremely premature birth. In the book, the father, who is also an obstetrician and gynecological doctor, shares information on both the medical details of premature birth as well as the many emotions experienced by the involved families. In this way, the book may be enjoyed by many local families who have had a loved one suffer an Illinois birth injury, with the range of mental, physical, emotional, and financial consequences that attach.
The book, titled Fragile Beginning: Discoveries and Triumphs in the Newborn ICU, beings with the author sharing his own story. His wife was just 26 weeks pregnant with the family’s third child when she went into labor. Of course, the family was incredibly worried from the outset, because the labor began a full three months before the mother’s due date. Eventually the girl was born via emergency C-section, and she immediately rushed off to the neonatal unit. The girl weighed just one pound fifteen ounces. Children born early quite often suffer a range of birth injuries, many of which can be life-threatening. In the author’s case, he was fortunate that his daughter survived and did not suffer any permanent life-long cognitive impairments.
She did not go unscathed, however.
The day following her birth the young girl developed severe bleeding on the brain. That sort of injury can often lead to permanent physical and mental issues, including the development of cerebral palsy. Fortunately, in this case the major issues were resolved before they could lead to significant harm. The girl is now ten years old, and she shows no signs of cognitive harm. Her impairments are only minor. She has slight problems with her walking and her right hand has less function than her left. However, all things considered, the family admits that they are quite fortunate.
The doctor summarized his own thoughts about the situation which have likely been shared by many local families dealing with Illinois birth injury victims. He noted about what was going through his family’s mind at the time of the injury, “We knew enough to be terribly worried, but not really enough to understand the nuance of what was to come. And certainly our knowledge didn’t provide us any tools to do anything about it.”
After sharing the doctor’s own story, Fragile Beginnings continues by tracing the history of medical standards, advancements, and improvements as they relate to helping prematurely born infants. As the book notes, we have come a long way in a short time. For example, much attention to proper treatment for premature infants was drawn when President John F. Kennedy’s son, Patrick, was born more than five weeks premature. Patrick died a few days after his death due to a respiratory problem. Today, that problem is routinely treated in virtually all hospitals.
The book author admits that decisions made by doctors, as well as parents, often have significant impacts on the lives of those born prematurely. This is a point our Chicago birth injury lawyers know well, having worked with many families whose loved ones have suffered as a result of negligent conduct by medical personnel.
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