Four hundred and sixty days: That’s a year and a little over three months.
That’s how long little Kendall Jurnakins spent in the NICU at Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana. Born at 25 weeks gestation and weighing just 15 ounces, Kendall was given a 50/50 chance of survival by his doctors. No one was positive he’d survive at all — but he’s finally home!
Kendall was born on December 11th, 2020. His mom, Sparkle Jurnakins, has only one kidney, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These health complications led to an emergency C-section at just 25 weeks gestation. He was so tiny at birth that Sparkle was terrified she’d lose him before his life had even gotten started.
“I just was scared my baby wasn’t gonna make it because they said at that small, he probably wasn’t gonna make it,” she said.
Kendall turned out to be a fighter, but it was one battle after another. His prematurity caused respiratory distress syndrome, eating problems, and chronic lung disease. Doctors had to give him a tracheostomy and put him on a ventilator to help him breathe. He also had a feeding tube.
Sparkle visited her son every day, but after eight months she suffered a tremendous health setback of her own. The mom-of-four contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital struggling to breathe. While her infant was in the NICU on a ventilator, his mother was also on a ventilator fighting for her life in the COVID ward.
“COVID almost took me out,” she recalled. “From August to October, I was in a coma. And then in the hospital till almost December.”
Doctors, nurses, and staff were fully invested in Kendall and Sparkle’s story. They feared the worst, but were so relieved when Sparkle began to recover from the deadly virus. She says her husband’s support helped her pull through, and she was determined to live so she could see her baby recover, too.
At long last, Sparkle and Kendall were reunited in December 2021. She was incredibly relieved when her baby seemed to recognize her right away, even after months apart.
When Kendall was finally strong and healthy enough to leave the hospital, the staff gave him a very special send-off. They’d watched the baby beat the odds from the moment he was born, witnessing “firsts” that usually happen at home. They’d seen him get his first tooth and learn how to roll over, sit, and crawl. For them, it was personal!
When Sparkle and her husband came to pick him up, hospital workers lined the hallway and cheered. Sparkle says it “was the best day of my life.”
Both mother and son battled death and won! They both have a second shot at life, and they’re not going to waste a moment.
Share this story to welcome Kendall home.
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