Premature twins get special care at Children's Hospital

Friday, June 18, 2010

A team at Children's Hospital Central California works day in and day out to provide state of the art care for babies who are born way before they're ready.

Tim Rapp scrubs up and gets his gown on. It's another day at Children's Hospital, another day surrounded by the most fragile patients.

Even though this one here has been through two surgeries he's gone through a lot of fine tuning, whether it's blood sugar levels or platelet levels.

Rapp may sound like a doctor, but he isn't one, he's a father waiting to bring his babies home from the neo-natal intensive care unit, known as the NICU.

Laura Rapp gave birth to Asher and Mason in November; the boys were born 13 weeks early. Mason weighed 2 pounds, Asher was even tinier.

"It's just devastating, cause they look so different than a normal term baby, they're smaller they're a different color, it's just very scary," Rapp said.

The babies were transferred to the NICU, the 88 bed unit, is one of the largest in the state, with one of the best reputations in the country.

"The survival of a baby less than a pound 20 years ago was really dismal whereas now we resuscitate down to less than a pound," Dr. Kajori Thusu said.

Babies born 3 months early often have underdeveloped lungs and fragile immune systems. Asher had surgery to close a gap in his intestine. A cardiologist patched up a hole in mason's tiny heart.

Mom and dad are grateful to have pediatric experts all under the same roof.

"I wouldn't take our babies anywhere else, now that we've been here this is a level of care that we didn't realize how fortunate we were until we had to go through all this. I don't think these babies would be around if it wasn't for them," Rapp said.

Two months later, 16 bottle feedings a day add up. The babies weigh more than 10 pounds each.

"This one here was about 6 pounds when he left the hospital and he's doubled his weight in 70 days, he's growing good," Rapp said.

Asher has a machine to monitor his breathing; Mason has an oximeter that checks his heart rate and oxygen levels. The day will come when they won't need them at all. Mom and dad find comfort knowing help is just a few miles away.

"We're really fortunate in Fresno to have them so close, so close by."

A grateful family happy to be home sweet home.

The hospital also operates a network of satellite NICUs at regional hospitals in Fresno, Hanford, and Merced.

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