Preemie born at 29 weeks spends nearly a month in the hospital following RSV diagnosis

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 12:47 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - A Bowling Green baby is back home after nearly a month in the hospital after contracting the Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

It all started on September 23, when Brooke Martin said she looked down at her six-week-old son, Hakeem Martin, who was born prematurely at 29 weeks, and saw that his lips were turning purple.

“It was like nine o’clock at night, we were at Grandma’s house,” she said, “I actually had him swaddled in my arms. He had just finished the bottle, maybe 20 minutes before.”

It was at that moment, Brooke said, that she started to panic.

“I’m like, Mom, like, something’s wrong. And she runs to me, and she grabbed him... And she starts screaming at me. And she’s like, call 911, I’ll work on him,” she said.

Martin went outside to call 911 but said because of where they lived, she and her family were afraid the ambulance wouldn’t make it to them in time.

“We get in the car, and we meet them in the middle of the road. And we’re like, you know, he’s not breathing,” Brooke said, “Well, my mom, she’s doing CPR, and I’m in the backseat. And I’m just like, Mom, please don’t stop, keep working on [him], and please don’t stop. So finally, when we meet the ambulance, he takes a breath, and we get him in the ambulance. And he’s okay.”

By the time the ambulance with Martin and her son reached the Medical Center in Bowling Green, her son was 92 degrees and breathing every fifteen seconds before stopping.

“By then he’s what they call apneic,” she said, “It’s like he forgets to breathe. That’s how they explained it to me. So there’s a nurse standing next to him. And she’s, you know, every 15 seconds, she’s like, rubbing his tummy. And she’s like, you know, come on, little guy, you gotta breathe.”

Brooker and her husband were eventually told by doctors that Hakeem needed to be flown to Vanderbilt for further treatment. They were also told they could not ride with him in the helicopter, so she and her husband started their drive to Nashville.

“I look at my mom and dad, and my sisters and say, I can’t lose my son, that’s the first thing I thought about he, you know, was he wasn’t gonna make it,” Martin said, “And I was so scared and having to leave him there, just to get to the hospital to make it in time.”

While on the way to Nashville, Martin said she received a call from the Medical Center telling her that her son had stopped breathing and was put on a ventilator, which was also when he tested positive for RSV.

“No one in my family has ever had it,” she said, “So of course, I’m like, you know, he’s fine. He’s gonna be fine. It’s no big deal. So, we get to Vanderbilt, and we’re waiting. And I see him flying in the helicopter. And of course, I’m emotional. Because, you know, my, my four-pound baby’s by himself, he might take his last breath any second, he might not.”

Once at Vanderbilt, they were able to check Hakeen into a room that had a chair and a cot, where Martain said both she and her husband stayed during their son’s time in the hospital.

“The first three days we stayed up was no sleep or anything,” she said, “And they kind of put him to sleep since he was so little and on the vent, so he didn’t mess with anything. And all I’m thinking is, you know, is he ever going to wake up? You know, is he going to come out of this?”

Hakeem was on the ventilator for 18 days before things started to look up.

“He was on oxygen for I’d say about an hour. And that’s it,” Martin said, “Then after the hour, they took them off the oxygen, and he started breathing on his own. And then that night, they tell us, y’all are gonna be taken out of the PICU into a regular room.”

About 10 days after, the Martins were in a regular room teaching their son how to use a bottle and how to eat again. On October 10, Hakeem was finally released from the hospital.

“The day that we got home, I remember telling mom, I’m not gonna go to sleep for a while because I’m scared that if I’m asleep for a while something’s gonna happen,” Brooke said.

She also added that if she had known what the symptoms were then, she would have taken her son in sooner.

“I look back at my pictures and my videos that are taken of him at home,” she said. “And I could see, you know, that he was working so hard to breathe. And he was making these grunting noises, which I thought was normal.”

And during that time, her family became her biggest support.

“Without my mom and my sisters, I don’t know how we would have gotten through it...So I’m very grateful for them,” she said, “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up by Brooke’s mother to help cover any expenses they may have.