Carmen’s pregnancy with Conor was completely normal – even perfect. From very early on, she could feel him moving. She even went into labor on Conor’s due date. But the birth was traumatic. After a fast and intense labor, it was discovered that Conor was in a posterior position, head-down but facing his mother’s abdomen. And after three and a half hours of trying, forceps were needed to get him out. Conor was lifeless and blue. The room filled with doctors and nurses. Carmen only got a quick glimpse of her new baby before he was rushed to Erlanger’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Conor was suffering from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a neurological impairment caused by low oxygen. The Erlanger NICU team immediately began a cooling treatment for him. This innovative technique has been used for years help save cells in adult therapies, but has only recently begun to be used to treat infants suffering from birth trauma. Carmen could not hold Conor as he lay for 72 hours on a cooling blanket. His full head of blonde hair, which was naturally parted so he looked like a little gentleman, was the first thing the doctors and nurses would notice when they saw him. But next, they were in awe of his strength. Over the course of the next eight days, Conor’s strength grew and grew. He completed the cooling treatment and began a warming process. He started taking breast milk immediately and within days his improvement was remarkable. Finally, the day after Mother’s Day, Conor was discharged. The family continued to visit the NICU clinic for nine months, and Conor’s doctors have nothing but encouraging words for his prognosis.

Carmen noted, “We will be forever grateful to the doctors who treated our son. We are especially thankful to all the NICU nurses. Day in and day out, they were there caring for and supporting not just our son, but my husband and I as well. On Mother’s Day, the nurses had even decorated every single bed unit. We weren’t alone through it all. They were fighting with us.”

Today, Conor is an amazing and extremely active, 18-month-old. He loves his cards, running around outside and playing with his big sister, Isabel, who is four. So far they have not encountered any issues since Conor came home from the NICU. Carmen said, “Their actions saved our son. Even if issues do arise in the future, we will tackle it as a family. And with the help of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger, we will overcome.”

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