A little boy in Decatur, Georgia may be one of the luckiest in the world after he went home after being born at just 21 weeks gestation. He may be only the second child to ever survive such an early birth.
When Jessica McPherson first went into labor in December, she knew it was far too early. Babies born and surviving at 21 weeks are rare, and boys especially have a difficult time thriving after a premature birth at such an early gestational age.
Despite the odds, Jessica asked doctors to do all they could to save him.
“We looked at each other in the eye and I told him just give it a try. I just want you to try as long as you try that’s all that matters to me, don’t just up and say that you can’t do it. Just ‘cause you haven’t done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done,” Jessica said to the local Atlanta Fox station.
Gina Phillips, Director of Medical Services, knew that the likelihood of his survival was so low that it bordered on the impossible.
“At 22 weeks some are surviving but 21 weeks is a rarity, it would be short of a miracle,” Phillips said.
But Jemarius Jachin Harbor is a fighter, and he recently beat the odds and went home after spending more than six months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Sadly, many babies born around that time period are not as lucky.
There are reports of hospital staff members and physicians that will deny treatment to a premature baby or babies if they are not born at a certain gestational age. In a case from Australia, one baby was born alive at 22 weeks, but lived only 11 minutes after the hospital refused care since he wasn’t born at 23 weeks. His mother and grandmother begged for medical intervention, which could have extended or saved his life, but were ignored.
In another disturbing case, twins born at 22 weeks and 5 days gestation at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio were denied medical care and were declared as “stillborn” though the boys were actually born alive and lived for 45 minutes and two and a half hours, respectively. If the babies had made it to 23 weeks, the physicians would have tried. It’s unbelievable that with all the technology available, a mere two days and hospital guidelines separated these children from proper medical care. There is video footage of their mother, Amanda, pleading for the physicians and medical personel to save her children.
In the video, Amanda says, “You guys are going to save him, right? Promise me they’re going to save him.”
They didn’t and left the children to die in her arms.
A recent poll revealed that only 39% of Americans view life as “sacred.” When only a handful of Americans believe in the sanctity of life, it makes it easier for some physicians and medical professionals to ignore the pleas of grieving mothers and families.
The only reason that Jemarius Jachin Harbor survived, and these other babies did not, is that certain doctors made the decision to try and save him despite the seemingly impossible odds.
How many more premature babies would be saved if the sanctity of life was a given, rather than just the belief of a portion of the population?
The miracle of Jemarius Jachin Harbor’s survival is something that should be celebrated and will hopefully encourage more physicians to take a risk on babies that have been born prematurely. Just because the odds might be slim doesn’t mean a miracle can’t happen.
Jemarius Jachin Harbor is proof of that.
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