Doubly Blessed- Premature Babies Defy the Odds
Thirty-three-year-old Tiffany Schetter of Germantown was just 20 weeks into her pregnancy when she learned that one of her unborn twins had only a small chance of survival.
Tiffany and her husband, Aaron, were told their daughter was not getting adequate blood flow. Their doctor connected them with Jim Rost, MD, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, to learn about the care their babies would receive when they arrived.
“Dr. Rost was unbelievably warm and inviting to us and helped us feel at ease,” Tiffany says.
The Schetters met with Dr. Rost and toured the Level IIIb NICU. “We were really relieved to find out that one of the better NICUs in the state was so close to where we live,” Tiffany says. “We felt very comfortable knowing we would deliver the babies there.”
A Level IIIb designation, which is one of the highest in Maryland, means Shady Grove Adventist Hospital’s NICU provides advanced care for newborns with severe or complex illness, including extreme prematurity.
Expert care, compassionate support
“The NICU is staffed around the clock with board-certified neonatologists; neonatal nurses; educators; respiratory therapists; occupational, physical and speech therapists; and lactation consultants,” Dr. Rost says. “They are dedicated to providing the highest level of care in a warm, caring and familyfriendly environment.”
On Aug. 22, 2012, at 27 weeks, Tiffany’s daughter’s heartbeat decelerated and physicians performed an emergency cesarean section.
Both twins had respiratory issues and were placed in the NICU. Alexis weighed just 1 pound, 6 ounces, and her brother, Dylan, weighed 2 pounds, 8 ounces.
“Many of our NICU patients receive care for issues related to prematurity and often have respiratory distress syndrome,” Dr. Rost says. “We have a complete range of technologies to assist babies with breathing problems.”
Dylan required only minimal respiratory support, whereas Alexis was placed on a breathing machine called a ventilator. Tiffany spent up to 12 hours a day visiting her babies in the NICU. Dylan went home after 51 days, but Alexis stayed for more than 120 days.
Together at Last
On Dec. 23, 2012, Alexis finally joined her brother at home.
“Seeing a patient discharged home, particularly after a stay in the NICU, is one of the greatest feelings a team can experience,” Dr. Rost says.
Alexis remained on oxygen after going home, and nurses from the NICU helped Tiffany and her husband adjust to caring for her by helping them set up a makeshift NICU in their home.
With both children home and gaining weight, Tiffany is thankful for the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital NICU team.
“Not only was it convenient for us,” she says, “but we were very fortunate to have a facility that could handle a baby as small and as sick as our daughter and to have as positive of an outcome.”