A premature baby who weighed just one pound at birth has defied the odds of survival and can now embrace his homecoming.
It was an emotional moment for medical staff at NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens on Friday, March 26, as newborn Jayden Waseem Shah — now weighing 6 pounds — smiled, cooed and showed all the signs of a healthy 4-month-old baby, ready to venture out into the daylight with his parents, Alana and Zaheer Shah.
The Shahs, who live near the hospital in Jamaica, posed with Jayden wearing a blue-tassel graduation cap inside the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) alongside the medical staff who nursed him to his current weight. Alana is Guyanese and her husband Zaheer Shah is from Trinidad. The couple has a 12-year-old daughter and 2-year-old daughter, both of whom were born full-term at the hospital.
When Shah arrived at the hospital in early December in labor at 22-plus weeks, it was a scary experience for her, she said. However, she found the staff to be extremely supportive, explaining everything they were doing for Jayden.
“They gave me hope that my baby would survive. They would tell me, ‘Your baby is strong. He is a fighter,’” Shah said. “When I had postpartum depression, they said, ‘You’re fighting for him. You’ve given him breast milk for three months straight. You’ve done more than enough.’ My spirit was lifted by their positive words and encouragement.”
NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens Director of OB-GYN Aleksandr Fuks, MD, and its Chief of Newborn Services Alice Garner, MD, determined the baby’s gestational age to be pre-viable — the accepted age of viability being 24 weeks, and Jayden’s estimated weight was 500 grams — but nonetheless consulted with one another and committed to doing everything in their power to save the baby.
They decided to give Alana an injection of steroids, magnesium sulfate and antibiotics, explaining everything beforehand to both parents so that they were completely informed and understood what was happening. The plan was to have hospital pediatricians evaluate the baby at the time of delivery, and move forward on a day-to-day basis: the baby would either survive, or he wouldn’t.
Jayden was born the very next morning, on Dec. 4. He was then given surfactant and placed on a ventilator. Initially diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome he had no bleeding on the brain, a positive sign, but would now need ongoing therapy for eye changes related to his prematurity.
The Shahs were in the NICU every single day from the time of his birth, until Jayden showed signs of getting bigger and being able to breathe on his own. Together they will play a pivotal role in his continued growth and development as he begins his life at home.
NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens CEO Neil Moore said in Jayden’s case, this is the earliest a baby has ever been born at the hospital and survived.
“The successful treatment of baby Jayden by our obstetricians, nurses and entire NICU team is nothing short of a miracle,” Moore said. “NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens is proud to be a community hospital where young families can count on having a healthy start in life.”
According to Moore, in recent years, the hospital’s labor and delivery team has delivered three sets of healthy triplets, as well as helped nurture several premature infants to the point where they can safely go home.
Garner will follow Jayden’s progress in the hospital’s pediatric high-risk clinic.
“I’m really happy that Dr. Fuks and I can have that conversation, where we can say, ‘How are we going to go about this?’ It means that patients will have the best chance for a positive outcome for their baby in the face of incredible odds,” said Garner, referring to the enormous challenges presented by a premature birth. “Our approach is now becoming the standard for the entire Health + Hospitals system.”
Garner added that obstetric care has progressed to a point where they are aware of what they need to give the baby that will not harm the mother.
“We know what we must do to protect the baby’s heart and brain. And whether this baby had survived or not, the fact that we gave him the best chance for survival is everything. It is something his parents will never forget. It truly makes all the difference.”
According to Fuks, Jayden’s birth was a remarkable effort and a fantastic achievement that should be publicized and celebrated.
“The NICU care at Queens has just been phenomenal. The entire NICU team are all winners. You cannot do any better than this,” Fuks said.