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Our May 13, 2015 hour on a landmark new study regarding mortality rates for extremely premature infants included a lot of powerful calls from listeners who faced some of the complicated choices new parents must sometimes unexpectedly make. One of those callers, Jennifer from Charleston, South Carolina, was kind enough to share her family's story, and underline the confusing mix of medical and emotional choices families are forced to make.
"In 2012, I suddenly had to give birth, I had an emergency C-Section, because my daughter was having heart-trouble in the womb, and she was born at 22-and-a-half weeks gestation...
They really laid out all the options out on the table. I really think the most important thing is that the doctors and nurses really sit down and weigh out all the options with the mother, and the father, or whomever...
She lived for seven days. On the seventh day, she did have a lot of complications for being born that early. Her viability wasn't the best when she was born. She wasn't even a pound, she was 14-and-a-half ounces. She had problems with her lungs, she was bleeding in the brain, and on the seventh day, they gave us the option to remove life support. That really was the better option.
I have no regrets for my choice. A lot of people, including family members, tell us we made the wrong choice, constantly, but given the opportunity, given all the options we were given at that time, I'm glad that we did it. I think everyone needs to make their own decision.
The most important thing is that I know it's a tough decision to go into what the best treatment options are, but it's a case by case basis. I was very thankful for the doctors and nurses we interacted with. They were very open and honest about treatment. They were real.
You see those things on social media, 'This baby was born this early and turned out okay.' It doesn't always turn out okay. I'm thankful they were so real with us.
We did what was right for us, at that point, and we saw that the quality of life was going to be too hard."
We thank Jennifer, and all of our callers and commenters today, for sharing their stories of medical choices and family decisions at their most raw. There's no easy or universal answer for the kinds of medical treatment available or recommended when infants are born at 22 or 23 weeks, but we're glad that doctors and medical teams continue to be open and transparent about viability, costs and consequences at all levels.
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