BY COSHANDRAâ€ˆDILLARD, email@example.com
Sixteen-month-old Micah Read is what many consider a miracle. He was born after just 26 weeks of gestation, making him the first micro-preemie to be cared for at Mother Frances Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
After his 94-day stay and successful recovery, he was chosen as this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Miracle Child. Micah will light the Tyler’s Christmas tree following the annual parade Thursday.
Mayor Barbara Bass, along with hospital personnel who cared for him, Tuesday joined Micah’s parents, Royce and Jayme Read, for an official announcement of his new title. “Micah is a miracle, and as we go into the Christmas season let’s remember that it is about miracles,” Mayor Bass said.
The bouncing baby, decked out in suspenders and a bowtie, was all smiles and giggles.
“We are very honored,” Mrs. Read said. “We are just blessed to share his story with others and to give hope to other parents with premature babies — thatthere can be a positive and good outcome to the situation.”
Micah, weighing 2 pounds 4 ounces and measuring 14.25 inches, developed retinopathy of prematurity—a condition that occurs when the blood vessels in the eyes do not develop properly.
Dr. Ming Lu, a Trinity Clinic ophthalmology retina specialist, developed a treatment for Micah.
“The most challenging condition for a premature baby is they may have bleeding in the back of the eyes,” Lu said. “It takes 40 weeks for the baby to have fully mature eyes. When Micas was born he was 26 weeks. The front half of his eyes didn’t have any blood vessels. He bled in both eyes.”
A conventional laser treatment would have been too harsh for the tiny baby, Lu said.
The former scientist instead injected a medicine into the eyes. He had previously researched how to stop bleeding in the eyes due to conditions including in premature babies and with patients with diabetes.
After treatment, Micah’s bleeding stopped within hours, and his blood vessels became fully mature.
“Now he can see all around, far and beyond. Half of his eye is not destroyed,” Lu said.
The new treatment has been marketed for the last eight years but is still considered experimental.
With neonatologist Dr. Brenda Morris at the helm, Mother Frances opened its NICU in 2008. It offers families of premature babies special services that had not previously been available in the area.
“We are so blessed in our East Texas area to have the level of pediatric services that we have,” said Mary Elizabeth Jackson, president of Trinity Mother Frances Foundation.
Read also praised the availability of the services and hospital staff, who he said made their journey easier.
“It’s one of those things you don’t know how it’s going to be,” he said. “There’s a lot of fear. We just kept faith.”