Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

UCH, iPhone let ballplayer get the play-by-play on birth of daughter

And baby makes five. The Bernard family at home.


And baby makes five. The Bernard family at home.

NEW TAMPA — Michael Bernard thought he would miss his daughter's birth.

The former University of South Florida basketball player was half a world away playing basketball professionally for a European team.

They made it to the playoffs, extending their season, so he wouldn't get back to Tampa in time.

Bernard did get to hear his baby's first cries.

An iPhone brought the birth of 7-pound, 5-ounce Maliyah to her dad's living room in Levice, a town in western Slovakia, where her cries filled his ears, where a nurse could be heard counting fingers and toes, where the surgeon's hearty congratulations brought this 6-foot-9-inch ballplayer to tears.

• • •

Kimber Bernard, 42, is a stay-at-home mom. In 1998, she was diagnosed with thyroidism, an ailment that, if not monitored, can result in a dwarfed baby. Then, in 2000, doctors discovered she had multiple sclerosis, which can bring on bouts of blindness and the inability to walk.

Her condition limited pain management options when she delivered her two older boys, Anthony, now 8, and Kavon, 6. She was in Germany when she had Kavon under general anesthesia. When she awoke, she experienced the worst pain of her life.

Those thoughts swirled in her mind as she checked into University Community Hospital with intense pain April 14, six days before her scheduled caesarean section. Doctors decided to deliver the baby that day.

Kimber, considered a high-risk patient, was anxious because of a previous bad experience during delivery. She worried about her medical condition and was concerned for her unborn baby.

Without her husband there, she wanted to stay awake during the procedure to be sure the baby was healthy. She begged them for a spinal anesthetic, which usually involves inserting a needle in the lower back region and injecting a local anesthetic.

The anesthesiologist, Dr. Harrison Le, resisted. For MS sufferers, the procedure is stressful on the spine and can be dangerous. After hearing the risks, Kimber agreed to the general anesthesia.

Then she learned that her mother would not be allowed in the surgery room, in keeping with hospital procedures when dealing with a patient under general anesthesia. She felt all alone.

But the gift of an electronic birth fell into the Bernards' laps when a close friend, a surgery nurse for 23 years, happened to be working at UCH that day.

Heather Outen asked the surgeon and the anesthesiologist to allow her to help the family.

"When you are looking at the patient, it's not just the physical surgery needs, it's the spiritual and emotional needs of that family as well," Outen said. "We do everything we can to make that experience as memorable as possible."

UCH nurses have made telephone calls to family members immediately after births. But they've never gone to this extent, Outen said.

With permission from Le and the surgeon, Dr. Steven Greenberg, Outen took Kimber Bernard's iPhone and, from a window outside the surgery room, gave Michael Bernard the play-by-play.

They are wheeling her into the surgery suite now. They're prepping her. They're positioning her.

Outen had to hang up the cell phone during the actual procedure to avoid any interference with technology in the operating room. But when little Maliyah was almost out, she re-established communication.

The baby will be born shortly. … You've got a baby girl! Ten fingers, 10 toes!

Bernard, who is out of the country about 10 months a year, was with his wife during the births of their two sons. He used that experience to envision all the movements as the crisp sounds echoed from his phone.

"It was very clear," recalled Bernard, 32. "I was surprised."

He heard the baby cry.

"Congratulations, Mike. You have your first baby girl," Greenberg bellowed into the phone. "We're going to look after Kimber now. She's doing wonderful."

Bernard collapsed on a couch in his small apartment and cried.

Moments later, the photographs of his newborn daughter began appearing on his phone.

He flew home on April 21 to see the baby in between games. Then he returned to Slovakia to help his team win the championship.

Now, he's back home again. Just in time for Father's Day.

Dong-Phuong Nguyen can be reached at

UCH, iPhone let ballplayer get the play-by-play on birth of daughter 06/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 8:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]