Premature baby at UMC Children’s Hospital shows need for pediatric ambulance

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – One of the smallest patients in the NICU at UMC Children’s Hospital is I’Keen Chacon, who was flown to the hospital from Roswell, New Mexico. After just 24 weeks pregnant, Taryn Chacon gave birth urgently at Lovelace Regional Hospital.

“Absolutely afraid of it. I had no idea what would happen to me or my son in the process. I could have lost my life. He could have lost his. He wasn’t breathing at all when he was born. And so they had to let him breathe first and resuscitate him and everything. And he was small. He was 1 lb and 5.5 oz. when he was born,’ Taryn said.

“And that’s very early. It’s really early. Babies at 24 weeks, many of them will not survive. And when we got the call from Roswell that that baby was coming, we knew we had to get there real quick,” said Dr. Melissa Piepkorn, director of UMC Children’s NICU.

Doctors had to manually ventilate baby I’Keen for four hours while they waited for a transport to intubate him and take him to a NICU with more specialized care.

“Luckily he fought hard enough to get through those four hours and eventually UMC came to the rescue,” Taryn said.

The UMC flight team got I’Keen to the Children’s Hospital in Lubbock on time, but the weather in West Texas means that crew can’t always fly. The hospital hopes to use the donations from Children’s Miracle Network to purchase an ambulance specifically for the neonatal transportation team to help keep them on the ground quickly. It would help reach newborns in rural areas, such as preemie I’Keen, of Loving, New Mexico.

“So hopefully any time of the day or night, as soon as we get that call that a baby needs us, we can leave immediately and go get them,” said Dr. Piepkorn.

The trip to Lubbock was not the end of I’Keen’s fight. In the NICU, he survived heart surgery, two pneumonia, and necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious infection in the gut.

“And luckily, with CMN’s resources, we had all the equipment and technology we needed to care for him while we had to send him to other places,” said Dr. Piepkorn.

“Without the care the UMC has given him, I’m not sure he would be here with me today,” Taryn said.

Despite everything, Dr. Piepkorn that I’Keen is doing well. He is fed through a tube but is bottle fed once a day. He is now 3lbs. 4 oz., still on a ventilator, but Taryn says that needs to come off soon.

“He is truly a miracle. He has done a great job. He has a very bright future. He is going home and will probably be a very happy and healthy boy,” said Dr. Piepkorn.

I’Keen should still be going home on his original due date, October 6. But instead of being born that day, he will be three months old.

‘Of course he is a miracle to me. I can’t express that enough. I don’t even know how to explain how I feel about it. I feel like it was the only thing, he was the only thing I was missing in my life,” Taryn said.

To donate to the Children’s Miracle Network and the UMC Children’s Hospital, click here.

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