Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Features and More

Never Let Go: About this story

RECOMMENDED READING


All of my recollections in this story have been verified with the people involved, with photos and video taken at the time, and with medical records. I also relied on my own journal entries and notes taken by my husband, Thomas French, a journalist and author.

To supplement my understanding of extreme prematurity, I interviewed doctors, bioethicists and epidemiologists, talked to other parents of micropreemies, and read dozens of journal articles and books. Dr. John Lantos, director of the Children's Mercy Bioethics Center in Kansas City, helped shape many of the ideas in this series. His book Neonatal Bioethics: The Moral Challenges of Medical Innovation was an invaluable resource.

Scenes for which I was not present, such as Gwen Newton's resuscitation of our baby, were described to me by the people who were there, and verified by medical records.

The statistic in the top of the story about the number of babies born at the edge of viability comes from the National Center for Health Statistics' U.S. birth certificate data from 2006, supplied by Harvard epidemiologist Tyler J. VanderWeele. The statistics cited by Dr. Aaron Germain are from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. The statistics pertinent to my baby account for the advantages of being female and not a twin, and for the fact that I received antenatal corticosteroids to strengthen her lungs. The statistics are specific to infants treated with mechanical ventilation. Odds for all babies born at 23 weeks would be bleaker. Survival data reflects babies who survived to age 18 to 22 months.

The claim that prematurity is the leading killer of newborns comes from the March of Dimes. Complications from prematurity, which include low birth weight and respiratory distress syndrome, are several of the top 10 causes of death in the first year of life. Together, they are responsible for more deaths than the No. 1 cause, birth defects. Prematurity is also the leading cause of developmental delays.

The following journal articles were essential to Part One of this story, particularly the discussion of the gray zone of viability, how doctors decide when to intervene, and outcomes for extremely preterm infants:

• Singh et al. "Resuscitation in the gray zone of viability: determining physician preferences and predicting infant outcomes." Pediatrics, 2007.

• Seri and Evans. "Limits of viability: definition of the gray zone." Journal of Perinatology, 2008.

• Stoll et al. "Neonatal outcomes of extremely preterm infants from the NICHD Neonatal Research Network." Pediatrics, 2010.

• Tyson et al. for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. "Intensive Care for Extreme Prematurity — Moving Beyond Gestational Age." New England Journal of Medicine, 2008.

All of the scientific and medical passages in this story were fact-checked by neonatologists.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Times photographer Cherie Diez was at the hospital on the day our baby was born as a friend of the family. Many of the photos you see are from those early days. Only much later did she and I return to the hospital as journalists.

Comments
Hometown Pasco for Nov. 24

Hometown Pasco for Nov. 24

We want your news! Hometown Pasco is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it’s snapshots from your family reunion, recreational sporting event, news from your last club meeting or just a few lines thanking someone for a job well do...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Here's where to see Christmas lights in Tampa Bay

Once the Thanksgiving leftovers are put away, you can stop grumbling about it being too early for Christmas lights and decorations. Let the grand illuminations begin! Despite our tropical climate, or maybe because of it, Tampa Bay goes all out when ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s labored portrayal of a shambling legal savant named Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the least of the movie’s worries. This is a story of shifting ethics that should be dramatic, but shaky logic prevents that from happening.Dan Gilroy’s f...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekend: Indie shopping, Lindsey Stirling, ice skating, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith

Plan your weekendShoppingBlack Friday: Avoid the madness of the malls at a variety of indie shopping experiences this weekend. Skatepark of Tampa has one of the best sneaker selections in Tampa Bay and free skating all day Friday to celebrate. They’l...
Published: 11/21/17
Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

Trump pardons Thanksgiving turkeys and takes a shot at Obama

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump wielded his pardon power Tuesday to spare a pair of turkeys from the Thanksgiving roaster, joking that he would also let last year’s turkey pardons stand despite his penchant for overturning Obama-era orders. In a ...
Published: 11/21/17
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Published: 11/21/17
‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

Richard Linklater called 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!! a "spiritual sequel" to his last-century breakout Dazed and Confused. Different characters, same youthful, life-exploring vibe.Linklater’s latest, Last Flag Flying, can be considered a spiritual ...
Published: 11/21/17
Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Cranberry sauce has long been a fixture on the holiday table. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ocean Spray, the popular producer of cranberry sauce, cans about 70 million tins of the stuff a year, 85 percent of which gets sold between Thanksgiving a...
Published: 11/21/17
Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s Coco was more enjoyable three years ago when it was titled The Book of Life and came from Twentieth Century Fox.Both animated features spring from Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, the annual "day of the dead" when departed rela...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Della Reese, of TV’s ‘Touched by an Angel,’ has died at 86

Della Reese, of TV’s ‘Touched by an Angel,’ has died at 86

LOS ANGELES — Della Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in middle age found her greatest fame as Tess, the wise angel in the long-running television drama "Touched by an Angel," has died at age 86. Reese’s co-star on the series, Roma ...
Published: 11/20/17