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Hole in intestine
Brandon Ealy Jackson

My son Brandon made his early arrival on February 26, 2006 at 29 weeks and four days at UAB. I noticed right away that his stomach was really swollen to the point where it looked like plastic. He was taken to the NICU immediately after his birth at UAB because he was struggling to breathe. My motherly instinct heightened because I knew there was more going on with him. There were X-rays ordered for his stomach because it kept expanding tighter and tighter along with spinal taps and other tests. Brandon weighed 3lbs 4oz. at birth and I was unable to help him. Two days later the doctors found a hole in his intestine, but they didn't know how large it was because there was a lot of air in his tummy.

He was immediately taken by ambulance to Children’s Hospital. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye to him. He had to have a colostomy bag and we were warned of all the complications my baby would face including not knowing if he would have to have the colostomy bag for the rest of his life or if he would have a condition called short bowel syndrome. After the surgery we found out a foot of Brandon's intestine was dead. Eventually his body started to reject my breast milk and other nutrients he was being given. He started dumping, which meant he was having diarrhea. Dr. Hardin removed the colostomy bag and reattached his intestines back together. Brandon slowly responded to treatment and my baby FINALLY came home in May of 2006! Three agonizing months later!

That was two years ago and we are still battling his health problems, namely asthma. If it were not for God and Dr. Hardin, Dr. Prince and the rest of the Children’s staff my son would not be here today. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for giving me my son back. When the doctor came to my room at 2:00 in the morning to tell me my son needed surgery immediately and I only had time to give verbal consent, my world completely stopped. I was told the doctor would be calling my room to talk to me about the surgery and to answer my questions. Very soon the phone rang and I heard the voice of the man God had chosen to save my son—Dr. Hardin. He explained everything to me and he was reassuring but not to the point of giving me false hope about Brandon's condition. I live in Dothan so I was alone in Birmingham without knowing a soul. Brandon's father missed his birth because I was transported by ambulance and the doctors and nurses reassured him I was fine and they would try to keep me pregnant for as long as possible.

Dr. Prince was present for his birth and he brought him to me for a quick kiss after he was born and every time we visited Brandon in the NICU Dr. Prince would tell me how I did a great job giving birth. The nurses encouraged me to pump for his benefit. I didn't think I could do it, but there was so much encouragement, that I did not quit and eventually my milk came in just like they said it would. One of the nurses at UAB in the NICU encouraged me to hold Brandon, but I was so scared because he was so tiny and there were more tubes and wires than there were of him. She encouraged, I believe it's called skin to skin, where I held him without a shirt and also the nurses explained it would help my breast milk come in. And I have to tell you I thought I was in love with my son already, but as I held him he looked at me as if to say you’re my mom and I'm going to be alright.

After I talked to Dr. Hardin, the sweetest voice asked to speak to me over the phone. Her name is Shannon and she called to tell me Brandon was doing great and she could not wait to meet us. Brandon's father and I arrived at Children’s and we met Shannon. She was waiting for us. She took us to our son and Shannon explained everything we were seeing. We had to return home because I have an older son and my job. It was extremely difficult for us to leave our son in the hands of strangers who quickly became our family. I felt faint. We called every hour on the hour and Shannon would call us. She even said she and the other nurses wanted to put him in their pocket and take him home with them. The nurses took pictures and gave us updates at every turn. We were so grateful to them.

We would have to travel three hours one way, but when we arrived at the Hospital, the staff embraced us whole heartedly. We were always warmly embraced and Brandon was completely spoiled the whole time he was there. Dr. Hardin, Dr. Prince, Dr. Geopfert, [the doctor who delivered Brandon], our nurse Shannon, William another nurse in the NICU, thank you all so much! I know you all may not remember us, but we certainly remember you all as if all of this just happened yesterday. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Because of Brandon's care he is in his horrible two's of telling me NO and just being a normal very active two year old. He has shared his germs with me, his colds with me, strep throat with me and everything else under the sun. But I would not change it for anything. Because he's so active I've lost 20 lbs and I'm still going. Forget all the diets, just get an active two year old who has survived so much--a product of the loving care of the staff at Children’s Hospital.
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