Elizabeth and Sammy Vasquez know all too well the routine of a child's premature birth. It has happened to them with two sons, born nine years apart. However, the 2003 birth of their third son, Marcus, brought a new wrinkle to their story.
Marcus was born at 29 weeks. He was small—very small. At 1 pound, 8 ounces, Marcus was the smallest newborn ever delivered at Shannon Medical Center. "He fit in Dr. Meyer's hand," Elizabeth says. "I didn't get to hold him because he was so small."
After stabilization in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Shannon Medical Center, Marcus was flown to Cook Children's in Fort Worth. He spent the next month there and returned to Shannon to continue his progress. At that time he became a direct beneficiary of Children's Miracle Network purchases made in 2003.
During the next month, Marcus lived in the Special Care Nursery and, more specifically, in an Omni Isolette, an intensive care bed designed for fragile newborns. The Special Care Nursery opened in summer 2003 and was funded in part with Children's Miracle Network funds. It provides a private, quiet environment for newborns not needing the NICU, but who aren't yet ready for the well-baby nursery.
"We were especially blessed to have the equipment Children's Miracle Network provided for the nursery," Elizabeth says. "Our time in the nursery allowed Marcus to grow and for us as a family to spend more time with him. The nurses and our doctors were absolutely wonderful. We were always waiting for the worst to happen to Marcus, but it never did."
From his tiny beginning, Marcus has defied the odds and today is a normal infant. Together with his brothers, Sammy III, age 10, and Allen, age 9—who was a preemie born on Shannon AirMed 1, Shannon's air ambulance—Marcus is bringing new activity to the Vasquez home. "With Marcus, we threw book learning out the window. He does what he wants to do, and that is a miracle. To start so small and be perfect now is a miracle," Elizabeth says.
Elizabeth's sentiments are echoed by Marcus's grandmother, Maria. "When you see the wonders that happen in a nursery, the intricacy of a perfectly made hand, if that isn't a miracle, what is?" she says.