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Flynn, born prematurely at 29 weeks, is now thriving

In the early hours of Oct. 15, 2014, Amber Hansen—then only 29 weeks pregnant—woke up with severe bleeding. Her husband, Casey, took Amber to the labor and delivery unit at Mercy-Cedar Rapids, a member of the University of Iowa Health Alliance.

Amber was experiencing placental abruption—the placenta peeling away from the inner wall of the uterus—a complication that can deprive a baby of oxygen and nutrients and can be life-threatening for both mother and child.

Cedar Rapids doctors decided the family needed to be sent to University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics for more advanced ultrasounds and maternal care. The Hansens arrived at UI Hospitals & Clinics at 11 a.m., and baby boy Flynn was born via urgent C-section just 25 minutes later, weighing only 2 pounds.

Shortly after birth, Flynn was taken to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)—Iowa’s only Level 4 NICU, the highest level recognized by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This means the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital NICU is equipped to care for the tiniest and most critically ill babies, with access to the greatest range of neonatal services and support available in Iowa. Survival rates among all babies cared for in the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital NICU—Iowa’s only nationally ranked neonatology program—are among the best in the country.

UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital is also the only comprehensive children’s hospital in the state—every pediatric specialist a child may need is under one roof working together. During Flynn’s 66-day NICU stay, pediatric heart surgeon Joseph Turek, MD, PhD, repaired a vessel near Flynn’s heart that had not properly closed. Flynn also required ventilator support while in the hospital, and was on oxygen for two weeks after coming home.

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The Hansens are thankful for both the Ronald McDonald House of Iowa City and the Helen K. Rossi Volunteer Guest House—family-centered lodging resources that allowed them to stay close to their son during his time in the NICU. They’re also grateful that other than requiring a hernia surgery performed by D. Dean Potter, MD, FACS, in Jan. 2015, Flynn has been thriving ever since.

“Now we’re here with a normal baby who won’t let us sleep,” jokes Casey.

In addition to the NICU nurses who became family to Flynn, the Hansens credit their son’s UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital doctors, including neonatologist Glenda Rabe, MD, for the progress he’s made.

“She fought for what she thought was best for Flynn,” remembers Amber. “We were in good hands.”

“They’re experts. They have that confidence in taking care of very small babies,” Casey adds. “I don’t think there’s anywhere better to be in the state of Iowa.”

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