Parents trust that doctors have their child’s best interest at heart and that they know best when it comes to their child’s health. But sometimes, doctors aren’t always right.
After giving birth three months prematurely, doctors warned one couple from Indiana that their baby boy had less than a one percent chance of survival. They had no reason to question the doctor’s prognosis and prepared to say goodbye. Thankfully, however, they followed their instincts and decided to find another doctor…
The Best And Worst Day
For most new parents, the day their baby enters the world is the best day of their lives. However, for parents with a newborn that is either born early or born with a dangerous illness, it quickly becomes one of the worst and most terrifying days of their lives.
Three Months Early
For Daniel Breyts and Jess Novac, a couple from Wheatfield, Indiana, April 11, 2018, should have been the best day of their lives together as it was the day their son Rowan was born. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the worst since Rowan’s due date was three months later.
A Tiny Preemie
At birth, Rowan weighed just one pound and six ounces. According to his parents, Rowan was so tiny that he could fit in the palm of the doctor’s hand. Because of how early Rowan had been born and how underdeveloped he was, doctors warned that his chances of surviving were slim.
A Deadly Disease
After doctors examined the tiny preemie, they discovered something that made Rowan’s chance of survival even smaller. According to Breyts and Novac, doctors explained that Rowan had a disease that left him without a properly functioning intestine.
Breyts and Novac learned that Rowan had a condition that doctors called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Rowan’s doctors explained that NEC is a serious disease where bacteria gets into the intestinal wall, which then leads to small holes in the intestines.
A Bacteria Invasion
Once the intestines are perforated, waste and bacteria then begin to leak into the abdomen, which causes deadly infections. The couple learned that NEC is typically seen in babies and most often occurs in infants like Rowan that are born prematurely.
While doctors aren’t sure what causes the disease, it is believed the intestinal tissue is weakened from blood flow getting cut off. Typically, babies diagnosed with the disease are cut off from breastfeeding or formula feeds so that their intestines can get a chance to rest.
The newborns are then given fluids intravenously. Doctors also administer a tube to remove fluids from the stomach and give the baby antibiotics to fight infections. In Rowan’s case, doctors also placed him on a ventilator to help him breathe since he was so weak.
Generally, only about 25 percent of infants diagnosed with NEC manage to survive the disease and go on to recover. Tragically, doctors told Breyts and Novac, Rowan’s odds weren’t even that good because of the condition of his intestines and how prematurely he had been born.
1 Percent Chance Of Survival
Rowan’s doctors determined that the newborn had less than one percent chance of survival and broke the news to the couple who had been hoping that their baby boy would miraculously get better. Before Breyts and Novac were even able to hold Rowan, doctors told them they should start preparing for the end.
A Death Sentence
“Without a small intestine, he could never eat. He would never grow. He was too small to hope for a transplant. It was a death sentence,” Breyts told Fox News about the moment doctors explained just how dire and hopeless baby Rowan’s situation really was.
A Heartbreaking Realization
After being told to start planning their newborn’s funeral, Breyts and Novac were absolutely crushed. They wanted nothing more than for Rowan to get stronger and healthier, but they were also starting to realize the reality of his situation. “It was a hard balance … I wanted him to survive,” Novac explained to Fox 59.
An Unbearable Pain
“But I was a realistic person, they told me he was going to die. I just didn’t want him in any pain and drag it out at that point,” Novac said about the heartbreaking realization. “We kissed him and cried, telling him how much we loved him and wished there was something we could do.”
Waiting For The End
After coming to terms with the reality of the situation, Breyts and Novac began waiting for Rowan to pass away. According to the couple, they hoped the day would never come but simultaneously didn’t want their baby boy to be suffering and in pain any longer.
Two Months Later
However, Rowan never passed away like doctors had warned them would happen. So at the end of those difficult two months, the couple decided to get a second opinion. “Jess and I spoke at length and decided that he wasn’t giving up…neither would we,” Breyts said.
Breyts and Novac reached out to doctors at the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and told them about Rowan’s case. After doctors at the hospital accepted Rowan’s case, the baby was flown by helicopter. Just four days later, Rowan was taken into surgery.
A Miraculous Discovery
During the surgery, doctors removed a section of dead bowel tissue and some abscesses. Incredibly, doctors also found a good amount of healthy intestinal tissue. “[A doctor] told me they saw a lot of pink viable intestine, which was the exact opposite of what we had been told,” Breyts explained about the incredible moment he and Novac’s hope was restored.
“She didn’t understand why I was so dumbfounded by what she had just said to me. I was like: ‘You don’t understand. The other hospital told us there wasn’t any left,’” Breyts said. Over the following months, Rowan underwent further treatment and several more surgeries to help him recover.
An Incredible Prognosis
What was even more amazing to both Breyts and Novac, was that the team of doctors at the Riley Hospital for Children explained they were able to save about 71 centimeters of healthy bowel tissue. While it was less than what normal infants have, it was enough that doctors explained Rowan wouldn’t need a transplant or suffer from short bowel syndrome.
A Living Miracle
After 209 days in the NICU, baby Rowan was deemed strong and healthy enough to go home with his parents. “Seeing him myself and knowing where he came from as far as how small he was and the issues that he had, in my heart, he is a miracle. He’s an honest to God miracle,” Breyts said.