Sparkle went into labor at just 25 weeks — a mere two weeks after she even knew she was pregnant — prematurely delivering her son Kendall Jurnakins, who weighed an astonishing 15 ounces.
Speaking with WXIN-TV, Sparkle said she gave birth to her son on Dec. 11, 2020. He just left the hospital this week, after spending 460 days in the neonatal intensive care unit of the Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis.
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“The doctor came in and said, ‘We’re going to have to take him. He might not make it, but to save your life, we have to take him,'” Sparkle recalled of when she first went into labor, noting her blood pressure was not regulating properly and her diabetes was causing complications.
The new mom was unable to see her child for four to five days.
“I just kept asking questions like, ‘Is he still alive?'” she said.
Dr. Melissa Leedy, a physician in the NICU who worked closely with Kendall, Sparkle, and her husband Keith, told the outlet she and other medical staff “really had to have hard discussions with his family throughout his stay,” noting the moment Kendall was outfitted with a tracheotomy the newborn boy “[turned] into a completely different person.”
“That boy was night and day,” Leedy said, explaining the tracheotomy was the only thing allowing him to breathe properly. “To look at a baby that is just living life to breathe and then to have a baby that is living life is just really, really amazing to see.”
Baby Kendall celebrated several milestones during his year in the hospital, including his first birthday, his first tooth, and his first attempt at crawling. For many in the hospital, he became like family.
“It’s a village to care for those babies; is not only like the doctor or the nurse,” Dr. Taha Ben Saad, medical director of the hospital’s NICU unit, said during an interview with WRTV-TV. “It’s the doctor, the nurse, we have nurse practitioners or physician assistants, respiratory therapists, all other therapists, dietitians, housekeeping unit — they all are part of that team. And it takes all that team for the baby to come to this point.”
Sparkle said she knew her little guy “was in good hands,” but was eager to have him home. Sparkle told WRTV-TV she cried herself to sleep some nights “because I didn’t have my baby home.”
On Wednesday, he finally went home.
“This moment, actually, I have no words,” said Saad. “It’s like such a reward for all of us. As I said, we waited for this day for a long time. And it’s such a reward. And then after all those long days, long nights, this is the best day for us. We forget everything else. As we all say — we see some losses, but we see a lot of successes like this. And this is one of the successes that we are proud of.”
Lining the hallways applauding Kendall, Sparkle, and Keith as they left, the NICU staff celebrated the baby’s journey home.
“We congratulate the Jurnakins family on a miraculous recovery and celebrate Kendall’s bright future with full hearts,” the Ascension NICU staff said in a statement.
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