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Premature baby at UMC Children’s Hospital shows need for pediatric ambulance

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:07 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2021 at 7:24 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - One of the littlest patients in the NICU at UMC Children’s Hospital is I’Keen Chacon, who was flown to the hospital from Roswell, New Mexico. At only 24 weeks pregnant, Taryn Chacon was rushed into labor at Lovelace Regional Hospital.

“Totally scared about all of it. I had no idea what was going to happen to me or my son in the process. I could have lost my life. He could have lost his. He wasn’t breathing at all when he was born. And so they had to first get him to start breathing and perform CPR and stuff on him. And he was tiny. He was 1 lb. and 5.5 oz. when he was born,” Taryn said.

“And that’s really early. It’s really, really early. Babies at 24 weeks, a lot of them won’t survive. And so when we got the call from was Roswell, that that baby was coming, we knew we had to get there really quickly,” director of the NICU at UMC Children’s, Dr. Melissa Piepkorn, said.

Doctors had to manually ventilate baby I’Keen for four hours while waiting for a transport to intubate him and take him to a NICU with more specialized care.

“Thankfully, he fought hard enough to get through those four hours and finally, UMC came to the rescue,” Taryn said.

UMC’s flight team brought I’Keen to the Children’s Hospital in Lubbock in time, but in West Texas weather, that crew can’t always fly. The hospital hopes to use Children’s Miracle Network donations to buy an ambulance specifically for the neonatal transport team to keep them swift on the ground. It would help reach newborns in rural areas, like preemie I’Keen, from Loving, New Mexico.

“So hopefully, any time of day or night, as soon as we get that phone call that a baby needs us, we can leave immediately and go get them,” Dr. Piepkorn said.

The journey to Lubbock wasn’t the end of I’Keen’s fight. In the NICU, he’s survived heart surgery, two bouts of pneumonia, and necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious infection in the intestines.

“And luckily, with CMN’s resources, we had all the equipment and technology that we needed to take care of him, where in other places, we’d have to send him someplace else,” Dr. Piepkorn said.

“If it wasn’t for the care that UMC gave him, I’m not sure that he would be here with me today,” Taryn said.

Through it all, Dr. Piepkorn says I’Keen is thriving. He’s fed through a tube but is bottle feeding once a day. He’s now 3 lbs. 4 oz., still on a ventilator, but Taryn says that should come off soon.

“He really is a miracle. He has done amazing. He’s got a really bright future. He’s going to go home, and he’s probably going to be a very happy and healthy little boy,” Dr. Piepkorn said.

I’Keen should still get to go home on his original due date, October 6. But instead of being born that day, he’ll be three months old.

“Of course, he’s a miracle to me. I can’t express that enough. I don’t know how to explain how I feel about it either. I feel like it was the one thing, he was the one thing I was missing in my life,” Taryn said.

To donate to the Children’s Miracle Network and UMC Children’s Hospital, click here.

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