April 7, 2002 was supposed to be one of the best days in James and Stephanie Yarbrough’s life as they prepared to welcome their baby girl, Jamilynn into the world. Shortly after the doctor broke Stephanie’s water, however, everything went terribly wrong. Three minutes later, the heart monitor attached to Stephanie’s stomach went flat, and she was rushed into the OR at St. Vincent’s Hospital for an emergency Caesarean.
Upon delivery, the medical staff realized that Jamilynn’s umbilical cord was tied in a knot, and she had suffered Meconium Aspiration. Her lungs were severely damaged, and she was given only a 20 percent chance of survival. She was also without oxygen for seven minutes, so the doctors warned James and Stephanie that even if she did survive, she would more than likely be brain damaged.
“Jamilynn was deemed clinically dead at birth, since she was born not breathing,” said Stephanie. “I have never been more scared in my life, and I knew that we were in the fight of our lives.”
Nine hours and two chest tubes later, Jamilynn was transferred via ambulance to Children’s. She coded five times in the short 10-block ride to the NICU.
Immediately upon arrival, the neonatal team at Children’s put Jamilynn on ECMO, and her parents, family and friends began to pray for a miracle. ECMO involves a heart-lung bypass system which temporarily takes over oxygenation for the infant or child so that the diseased heart or lung can have time to heal.
After six days, Jamilynn was taken off of ECMO. After two weeks spent in the NICU, she was moved to the Pediatric Special Care Unit, and on May 3, she went home with her family. She is now a perfectly healthy and happy 7-year-old.
“I know that she simply would not have survived without Children’s Hospital,” said Stephanie. We are eternally grateful to them- they treated us like family, and did not let us give up hope for even one second- if it weren’t for God and her medical team, she wouldn’t be here today.
Children’s Hospital is the only ECMO center in Alabama, and Jamilynn is one of over 500 children whose lives have been saved because of this service.