Florissant family shares story of miracles, tragedy for Prematur - KMOV.com

Florissant family shares story of miracles, tragedy for Prematurity Awareness Month

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Baby Tristan (Credit: Family) Baby Tristan (Credit: Family)

Baby Tristan was born at 22 weeks, weighing only a pound and three ounces.

“At 22 weeks, you can see through them. You can feel their ribs,” said his moms, Stephanie Forno and Tay Brunson from Florissant. “They are so fragile. Their hands are so small. You can see their veins through their whole body.”

After eight months in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Tristan finally got to go home this week.

“People talk about miracles and this falls into that category,” said Dr. Barbara Warner, a Washington University neonatologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “He has been so sick at many points along the way and he clearly has a will to survive.”

Dr. Warner explained, like so many premature babies, simply breathing was a huge challenge for Tristan.

“Even though we had made a lot of advances in terms of being able to improve lung development, it’s still not like a full term set of lungs. Being on the ventilator, having difficulty breathing, struggling for every breath,” said Dr. Warner.

By the time Tristan got to go home, he weighed nine pounds and was holding up his head.

“Babies like this shouldn’t be here but they fight through and there’s hope. There’s a lot of hope. Look at him now,” said his mom, Stephanie Forno.

Tristan had a lot of company while he was in the NICU. During one recent week, the hospital had the most babies in the NICU it’s ever had at one time. About half of the 100 babies were born premature. Having many babies in the NICU is not necessarily a bad thing. Dr. Warner explained the limit of viability, which is the age a preemie is most like to survive, has dropped by about a month in the past few decades. That means NICU teams can care for even smaller and younger babies than ever before. Still, the outcome will vary greatly for those families.

“The biggest issue parents have when they come into the NICU this early and this ill is number one, will my baby survive? And if my baby survives, what will their life look like in the long term? And those are very difficult things to predict,” said Dr. Warner.

This family has experienced both miracles and tragedy in the NICU. In 2015, they had twins born at 24 weeks. One passed away.

While there have been remarkable medical advances, there are still extraordinary challenges for premature babies and their families. Even at home, the fight continues.

“What happens in the home environment can make a huge difference. Those babies are at an important developmental part of their lives so that early intervention, having services set up for them, even if we’re not sure if they will have problems. We know those babies that have appropriate stimulation at home, appropriate services at home, go on and overcome many, not all, but many challenges they would have faced from a neurological standpoint,” said Dr. Warner.

The Brunson-Forno family, they’ve seen their other preemie son at home, Tristan’s older brother Kingston, catch-up and are working to make sure Tristan has the same success.

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