Springville, IA

At just 23 weeks into her pregnancy, Amber Holub went into labor. Despite being so early in her pregnancy, her local doctors knew they had no choice but to deliver.

Baby Dylan was born in September 2006, weighing only 1 pound, 5 ounces.

“You’re trying to think of a baby and the size of their heart and the size of their lungs,” remembers Brad, Dylan’s father. “And then you’re looking at your son and you’re thinking about his little heart and his little lungs, and you’re like, ‘how is all that going to work?’”

The doctors at the Cedar Rapids hospital “didn’t think there was anything they could do for Dylan,” says Amber.

“They told us we had a couple of options: we could possibly look at another hospital, who might be more qualified to take on a kid like Dylan, or we could agree to take Dylan off life support,” recalls Amber. “They gave us basically a 1 percent chance that Dylan would survive the next 24 to 48 hours.”

For the Holubs, giving up was not an option. They asked to transfer Dylan to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Once he arrived in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), Dylan was surrounded by a specialized and experienced medical team.

“You’re coming to a place that has such huge teams of doctors, but I think Brad and I quickly learned that that’s something we appreciated,” says Amber. “It was very nice to be able to sit and listen during rounds and listen to everyone’s perspective.”

Dylan experienced ups and downs during his 141-day NICU stay. The pediatric surgeons at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital performed multiple surgeries to remove air and infection in his bowel, close an open duct in his heart, and repair two hernias.

Premature babies can face many problems early on, including retinopathy of prematurity—abnormal blood vessel development in the retina—which can cause the retina to detach, resulting in blindness. At 2 months old, Dylan was showing signs of the disease.

After examining Dylan on a Friday, pediatric ophthalmologist Richard Olson, MD, returned on Monday morning. Dylan wasn’t supposed to be checked for a few more days, but Olson had a feeling something wasn’t right.

Dylan underwent laser eye surgery two hours later.

“Dylan could have gone blind if Dr. Olson had not gone with his gut instinct,” recalls Amber.

Despite his initial prognosis, Dylan beat the odds and is now a thriving, energetic 7-year-old. He comes back to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for eye, ear, and lung check-ups, and completes breathing treatments at home.

The Holubs are grateful to Dylan’s medical team at UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital for giving their family’s story a happy ending.

“The care we’ve received here is literally the best there is out there,” says Amber. “Thank you for believing in our child, thank you for giving him a chance, and thank you for helping him become who he is today: a happy, healthy, perfect little boy who is full of life.”

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