Each year, ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) hosts a reunion for former NICU patients, families and nurses to come together to celebrate their milestones and achievements. Kelly and David Niese will be in attendance for the first time this year to celebrate how far their family has come.
Baby Cooper weighed only 1 lb. 11 ½ oz. when he was born to Kelly and David Niese on August 27, 2013. He and his twin brother, Deacon, were born at just 25 weeks and five days. Tragically, Deacon passed away in the NICU at five days old, while Cooper continued fighting for his life.
“At one week old, he wasn’t stable,” says Kelly. “They couldn’t keep him ventilated properly, he had low oxygen levels and his numbers were off. They had a carbon dioxide monitor on him and his levels kept going up and things weren’t working.”
Doctors recommended that Cooper be transferred to a hospital equipped with a high frequency jet ventilator, which would help provide him with the oxygen he so desperately needed. Moving Cooper to another hospital had its risks. Ultimately, Kelly and David opted out of the transfer for fear their son wouldn’t make it through the trip.
That’s when Cooper’s doctors, Patrick Ethington, DO and Sandy Cadichon, MD, made the push to bring the jet ventilator to him. Both doctors had previous experience this particular ventilator manufactured by Bunnell Inc. and thought it would be a good fit.
“All of the doctors were on board. They believed it would benefit us and help Cooper get the ventilation he needed,” explains Kelly. “The company stores the ventilators in northwest Ohio, but someone from the company had to fly in to teach everyone how to use it.”
Miraculously, his doctors made it happen. Within days, Cooper was hooked up to the machine and showing rapid improvements.
“Almost immediately his numbers started to improve. Things started to look better. It was like a whole different baby almost,” says Kelly.
Cooper went off the ventilator after 16 days. Just shy of turning one month old, Cooper hit a milestone in his development.
“On September 18th we saw him smile for the first time. That was huge. Most parents see their kid smile after a couple weeks old. We had to wait a month,” says Kelly. And at one month old, Cooper’s dad got to hold him for the first time.
“We always knew his plan of care,” says Kelly. “The Toledo NICU is beautiful. I was grateful we had private rooms for what we went through. You are there to support your child and to take care of them.”
After 102 days at the NICU and many ups and downs, 3½-month-old Cooper finally got to go home, two days after his initial due date.
Today, Cooper is doing very well, and even has a new baby sister. The Niese family welcomed Stella Niese on May 13, 2015.
“Through all of this, we have kept in touch with several nurses and we keep them updated. If we are in the area for an appointment or shopping, we always make sure to stop in and see the nurses that saved our son’s life,” says Kelly.
The ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital NICU Reunion Day is Sunday, Sept. 20 from 1-3 p.m. at Entrance #3 and the parking lot. Former patients and families of patients are invited to an afternoon of fun and fellowship, including crafts, refreshments and entertainment. Please call 419-291-8380 for more information.