Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.
When Russell Appold Jr. left the hospital on October 1, he was dressed as a king: the perfect attire for a little boy who’d battled for his life since he was born extremely prematurely at 22 weeks gestation.
For his mom and dad, Natasha Williams and Russell Appold Sr., his survival marks the end of a very stressful time in their lives. Before baby Russell’s birth the couple had lost three pregnancies, with each child having no heartbeat. Thankfully, doctors found Russell had a strong heart, but unfortunately mom, Natasha Williams, had an issue with her cervix 15 weeks into her pregnancy.
To avoid an early labor, doctors performed an emergency procedure. While this kept baby Russell safely inside for the following weeks, by 22 weeks Williams went into labor: “My fiance and I both cried and we started praying,” shared the new mom with Kake.com.
By Friday her tiny one-pound baby boy was born. Although doctors didn’t believe he would make it, Russell and God had other plans.
Today, preemies have twice the survival rate of 10 years ago
Thanks to the hard-working team in the NICU unit at Tulane Lakeside Hospital in Louisiana, Russell thrived and beat the odds. “If it wasn’t for them and God, I don’t think he would be here,” his mom, shared in an interview with Good Morning America.
Now weighing a healthy 8 pounds, the brave little boy overcame various medical issues, such as jaundice and blood on the brain, to be able to go home to meet his two other siblings on October 1.
His story, like other successful preemie births, highlights the importance of parents and medical professionals considering resuscitation with babies born at 22 weeks.
Lisa Barbiero, a neonatologist at Tulane points out: “We are in competition with fetal lung embryology. There does come a point when the lung is too immature to function on its own without the placenta assisting in gas exchange. While the odds are still against these babies at the borderline of viability we have seen dramatic improvements in survival (5% to nearly 20% in some situations) of infants born at less than 23 weeks when the entire team from high risk OB care to neonatology is onboard with supporting a family’s request for attempts at resuscitation.”
Williams has set up a Facebook page, Baby Russell’s Journey, to help other moms in similar positions as they adjust to postpartum life with their little bundles.
Diagnosed with cancer, pregnant mother refuses abortion: She and baby survive