Doctors were doubtful, but Baby Russell Appold proved to be a true miracle of life.
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 ᴄᴇʀᴠɪx 15 weeks into her pregnancy.
To avoid an early ʟᴀʙᴏʀ, doctors performed an ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ᴘʀᴏᴄᴇᴅᴜʀᴇ. While this kept baby Russell safely inside for the following weeks, by 22 weeks, Williams went into ʟᴀʙᴏʀ: “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.
Thanks to the hard-working team in the N.I.C.U 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 ᴍᴇᴅɪᴄᴀʟ ɪssᴜᴇs, such as ᴊᴀᴜɴᴅɪᴄᴇ and ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ 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 ꜰᴇᴛᴀʟ ʟᴜɴɢ ᴇᴍʙʀʏᴏʟᴏɢʏ. There does come a point when the lung is too immature to function on its own without the ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇɴᴛᴀ assisting in gas exchange. While the odds are still against these babies at the borderline of viability, we have seen dramatic improvements in survival (from 5% to nearly 20% in some situations) of infants born at less than 23 weeks when the entire team from ʜɪɢʜ-ʀɪsᴋ 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.