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Baby born an orphan better, but still in peril

Published Sep. 27, 2005

The infant is in serious but stable condition. His parents were killed in a car accident Sunday.

A baby born minutes after his parents were killed in a car accident no longer needs a respirator to breathe but his long-term prognosis still is uncertain, his doctor said Wednesday.

Jacob Gadd's condition was upgraded to serious but stable after being critical since he was born early Sunday. His parents, Devyn Lynn Farina and Bryan Gadd, died after their vehicle was struck by a pickup truck driven by an impaired driver, authorities said.

Farina was resuscitated for 23 minutes and rushed to a hospital, where surgeons performed an emergency Caesarean section.

Robert Justin Palmer, 27, was charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter and could face 30 years in prison if convicted.

Although the 8-pound, 3-ounce boy is surrounded by grandparents around the clock, he hasn't been held yet because of his fragile condition. He is hooked up to a feeding catheter and machines that monitor his breathing, blood pressure and heart. He can't cry out loud because of the tube in his throat. His brain is swollen.

Because Jacob was without oxygen and a blood supply for several minutes, he could have long-term developmental and physical impairments if he lives. Right now doctors don't know how much brain damage there is despite performing a sonogram test on Jacob's brain and testing it for electrical activity, said Dr. Gregor Alexander, the attending doctor.

"We don't know what's going to be Jacob's survival and we don't know what is going to be Jacob's quality of life if he survives," Alexander said at a news conference.

Jacob's maternal grandparents had planned to be at the news conference but changed their minds.

Although Jacob has responded to stimulation, he isn't active and appears sleepy. Doctors were encouraged by his improvement during the past two days. He is gaining control of his lungs, heart and kidneys.

His chances of surviving, however, still are unknown.

"If you asked me today, right now, the baby looks pretty good," Alexander said. "But I cannot tell you if this is something that is going to be temporary or if we're going to see some worsening of his condition."