I’m in Spokane right now, having just given a talk at Washington State University – Spokane. It was an excellent experience with lots of thoughtful questions from the students. Two students also shared their experience. One has a brother who was born in 1991 very prematurely, and was one of the kids in a trial to get Exosurf, a surfactant that helped his lungs grow. Surfactant is amazing stuff — it helped save our son, and it lowered the limit of viability from 28 weeks down to 24 weeks. Without it, a preemie’s lungs will collapse with every breath, feeling like you or I might feel having the wind knocked out of us.
Another student’s mother is a labor-and-delivery nurse, who was present at the birth of a preemie at 23 weeks and 5 days of gestation. The baby looked pretty strong, but the mother was adamant it should not be sent to the NICU, nor would she hold the baby, who died in the nurse’s arms. Saddening, but it does illustrate the vast number of attitudes people will bring to an extremely premature birth.
I made videos of the talk, which I’ll be bringing back home and editing soon!