Jeffery Rushworth is nearing his first birthday, and that’s a milestone his parents weren’t sure they would see.
“They were strapping her and wrapping her, doing all kind of stuff, and I was panicking and I was like what the heck is going on and they’re going we’re going to have a baby,” says Jim Rushworth.
It was a whirlwind birth for Jim and Angela Rushworth. Baby Jeffrey came into the world at 26 weeks old, but they say it was even a struggle to keep him in that long.
Angela says she started bleeding early on in the pregnancy.
“I started bleeding at 19 or 20 weeks and the babies are not viable until they’re 24 weeks is really what they say,” explains Angela Rushworth. She says she was hospitalized eight times all in about a month-long span.
“It seemed like we were at the hospital every day you know they would get her better and then the next day we would be right back,” says Jim Rushworth.
And on Oct. 30 of 2021, Angela had another bleeding episode and they called for help.
“Literally I looked at my watch and it was like 6:30 and he was born at 7:20 so I mean all this happened,” says Jim Rushworth. “I mean it was just unbelievable how fast because they were afraid they were going to lose the baby and then her.”
Baby Jeffrey stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Francis Medical Center for three weeks.
But, that was just the beginning of his journey.
”Pretty early on he had two brain bleeds, a grade 3 and grade 4, and they kind of resolved on their own but they caused hydrocephalus which is just fluid on the brain […] so he needed a shunt.”
The Rushworths say since he was so little, they put in a temporary shunt at first and then needed to do a second surgery to put in a permanent one.
He also had a PDA Ligation procedure at St. Francis on his heart.
After three weeks at St. Francis, he was transferred to Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge. He would stay there for a little over three months.
”He was on a vent for a while with the chest tubes because one of his lungs kept deflating and so it took a while,” says Angela Rushworth. “At Our Lady of the Lake, they said the eight chest tubes he had was a record for their NICU.”
Jim says one of the main reasons they were transferred down south was to see a special eye doctor. Thankfully, they say he didn’t need to have surgery, but he is still getting checkups.
“He might need glasses but that’s nothing compared to his other issues.”
He’s been home since February and he’s thriving, but his parents say he almost didn’t get the chance to fight
“They came out and said well he came out screaming and crying so that was a good sign,’ says Jim Rushworth.
“And he had the umbilical cords wrapped around his neck and they’ve told us that he wouldn’t have survived if he had stayed put…and there’s no way for them to undo that as they grow and get bigger and it just gets tighter and he would have just suffocated,” says Angela Rushworth.
We hope your family never needs a NICU, but it’s good to know what’s available—just in case. Across our health system we offer access to the highest quality family-centered care:
Greater Baton Rouge and Northshore: Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital’s Newton & Betsy Thomas Family Center for Newborn & Infant Intensive Care
Acadiana: Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital’s Level III Surgical NICU
Northeast Louisiana: the region’s only Level III NICU at St. Francis Medical Center
This post was written by Jessica Torricelli and was first published by KNOE in September 2022.