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US Fed News
Miracle Baby Joins McGuire Family
January 21, 2005
MCGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J., Jan. 21 -- The U.S. Air Force issued the following press release:
By Airman 1st Class Rachel Martinez
A family here witnessed a miracle recently when their baby was born 16 weeks early.
Mayra Morales, the wife of Staff Sgt. Freddie Morales Fernandez, gave birth to Ariam Marie Morales at a hospital in nearby Camden.
Sergeant Morales Fernandez, a 305th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems journeyman, and his wife have been married for nine years. After years of trying, Mrs. Morales became pregnant in July. More good news followed when the couple found out they were having twins. But the good news did not last long, they said.
At 18 1/2 weeks into her pregnancy, Mrs. Morales' water broke, and she went into labor. She rushed to the hospital where three days later she gave birth to Freddie Joseph. Sadly, the baby died shortly after delivery. His twin, however, was not born that day.
Doctors believed the other baby would be delivered within the next couple of days and, like her brother, would not live long after birth. Miraculously, Ariam stayed in the womb for another six weeks before Mrs. Morales went into labor again. Like before, she was in the hospital for three days before the baby was delivered.
"It was a miracle she stayed in that much longer," Mrs. Morales said.
The baby was born weighing only 1 pound, 4 ounces and measuring 12 inches long.
"Everything was premature," Sergeant Morales Fernandez said. "As soon as she came out, they had to tube her because she couldn't breathe on her own. Her pancreas wasn't working so they gave her insulin. Her blood pressure wasn't stable so they gave her dopamine."
Ariam had tubes into her lungs, stomach and heart. She also had an IV put in through her umbilical cord. These tubes and IVs are what keep her fed, nourished, breathing and living, officials said. One of the tubes is pressed up against her vocal cords, preventing her from making any sounds.
"We can't hear her cry because of the tubes," Mrs. Morales said. "We can see her cry, but no sound comes out."
Besides everything else, the Morales' cannot hold their baby. All they are allowed to do is rest their hand upon her, making sure not to rub her skin because it may break.
"Her skin is so fragile and thin," Mrs. Morales said. "Anything can break her skin so they have to keep her in a moisture tent and cover her skin with a (gel) that makes her shiny."
At first, doctors believed Ariam had a 5 percent chance of survival, but her parents said she is beating the odds and performing another miracle.
"She is doing much better than they expected," Sergeant Morales Fernandez said. "Doctors said she could have heart failure or blood clots in her brain, but so far she hasn't had anything happen."
On the second day, despite being extremely premature, Ariam opened her eyes. And while she is the smallest baby in the newborn intensive care unit, she is the most active.
"She is moving a lot and trying to grab all the instruments she is hooked up to," Mrs. Morales said. "She is a fighter."
But, this fighter cannot get better all on her own. Because Ariam cannot produce enough red blood cells, she needs two blood transfusions every other day.
Sergeant Morales Fernandez can donate his own blood because he shares the same blood type - O positive. Mrs. Morales, however, cannot because she is A negative.
Since the Morales' do not know how long Ariam will need the blood transfusions, they have needed help in collecting more blood donations for her. That is why Sergeant Morales Fernandez contacted his first sergeant,
"The first thing that came to my mind was to contact the first sergeant for help," Sergeant Morales Fernandez said. "I was only going to ask for help from the squadron, but he said to ask for blood donations basewide."
And so he did. With the support of his first sergeant and commander, Sergeant Morales Fernandez sent out an e-mail to the entire base telling his story and asking for blood donations. Immediately, he saw responses.
"We started getting phone calls and e-mails," he said. "More than 100 people expressed interest in donating, not only people from the base but their spouses and other family members."
In fact, so many people wanted to help that the Morales' could not have them all donate blood. Blood has a shelf life of 30 days after five days of testing. Had the Morales' sent everyone who wanted to donate blood at the same time, most of it would go bad before it could be used.
"I am sending just a couple people at a time to donate," Sergeant Morales Fernandez said. "She will need the transfusions for a couple of months, so I am spacing the donors out. I saved all the e-mails, names and numbers of people who want to help and have been contacting them to thank them. I am also asking if I can't use their blood donation to go ahead and donate anyway because there are a lot of other babies who could use it."
The Morales' said at a time like this, the support they are receiving means a lot to them.
"All of our family is in Puerto Rico and can't be here with us," Sergeant Morales Fernandez said. "The moment we thought we were alone, everyone on base came out and cheered us up and supported us."
Even though the Morales' family cannot be with them physically, they say they are with them in thoughts and prayers.
"We are Catholic and very religious," Sergeant Morales Fernandez said. "We pray a lot, and they are praying for us and Ariam, too. That is how we are getting through this - by praying. Prayer is the biggest medicine right now."
Besides prayer, the Morales' are taking everything one day at a time.
"You have to have a lot of patience and wait," Mrs. Morales said. "You have to be strong and keep going."
So that is what Sergeant Morales Fernandez did - he kept going. The week Ariam was born, he was off for the holidays, but he has not taken any additional time off.
"We are going to be there for awhile so I want to save my leave up for later," he said. "Plus, work kind of takes my mind off everything for a while and offers some relief."
Even though he is at work, Sergeant Morales Fernandez still has Ariam on his mind. He calls the hospital multiple times a day to check on her. He said the nurses and doctors have been very supportive.
"They are awesome," he said. "Every day after work we go to the hospital, and the doctors and nurses explain to us everything that is going on - how many feedings she had, her blood pressure, etc."
As of Jan. 19, Ariam weighs 1 pound and 15 ounces. She is reacting well to the blood transfusions. Besides a couple a scares with her breathing, her parents say she is doing well.
In the meantime, the Morales' continue to pray and thank those who are praying with them. Sergeant Morales Fernandez said the support they have received has meant a lot, and they could not be more appreciative.