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GIFT OF LIFE MIRACLE BABY WILL SOON COME HOME.

Byline: Naush Boghossian Staff Write

r BURBANK - Fingering the one-inch scar on her neck, Amanda Thomas held back tears Friday as she talked about her roller-coaster experience- a near-lethal bout with pneumonia and the premature son she delivered while in a six-week coma.

The tracheotomy scar - ``Mommy's owie'' - has become a symbol of the anguish suffered by the Palmdale mother of two and her family.

``I'm glad my family was there,'' Thomas said, as she and her husband, George, prepared for baby Charlie's homecoming. ``I feel guilty I had to put them through all that. I have the scars, but they have the emotions.''

The 26-year-old recalled how on Valentine's Day, her older son's second birthday, she though she had the flu. Her breathing became labored and got worse. And worse.

``It was hard to breathe, but I had to be healthy for the baby's birthday party,'' she said, able to laugh now that she was home again.

After three days with no relief, Thomas saw a doctor who told her to immediately check herself into an emergency room. The early diagnosis: viral pneumonia.

She went to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, where she was sedated - and woke up six weeks later with a new baby.

It scares her to think what might have happened if she hadn't gone to the doctor that day.

``If I (had) stayed home, who knows what would have happened?'' Thomas asked. ``I wouldn't be sitting here.''

Eight days into the coma and six months into her pregnancy, nurses noticed that Thomas was having contractions.

Doctors were doubly concerned because she was suffering a series of system failures - her lungs and kidneys were not working properly and there was fear that the pre-term infant, with no immune system, would be subjected to the infection.

``I thought the worst. I didn't think she would make it,'' George Thomas, 26, said as he recalled the terror he felt in facing the loss of his wife and unborn baby.

``There were a lot of prayers. A lot of prayers,'' he said. ``I cried a bunch. Real men do cry.''

In less than two hours, the unconscious woman delivered a 1 pound 10 ounce boy - big enough to fit in the palm of Linda Harrington, a 25-year nursing veteran who helped deliver little Charlie.

``Your baby's doing fine. Be strong,'' Harrington had told the unconscious mother, over and over.

George Thomas, a microwave radio technician, recounted how nurses at the hospital called him that day to say he was going to be father in a few short hours.

``He's a little miracle child that we had, and I didn't think it would happen. He was a little lightweight,'' the proud dad said, smiling. ``I saw him kicking around and although he couldn't open his eyes yet he was turning his head around.''

Later doctors realized that Thomas was growing immune to her medications and they decided to turn off everything. And that's when the woman with the fighting spirit woke up to see her husband.

``I was really happy. I said, she's going to pull through, she's going to make it. Way to go, baby girl,'' he said, squeezing his wife's hand as he looked at her.

When Thomas saw Charlie for the first time, she was overwhelmed.

``When I first saw him, I was very happy and very sad because he was still hooked up to machines. It was a battle for both of us to make it.''

The medical staff insists both Charlie and his mother are miracles, the prognosis for each had been grave.

They don't all make it, said Harrington, who was surprised to hear that weeks after the birth Amanda Thomas was doing fine.

``She has some sort of infection that got a foothold and it almost won,'' the nurse said. ``I thought she had died.''

The unexpected happy ending has a place in Harrington's heart.

``This is one of the special ones that you'll remember years later,'' she said.

On Mother's Day, Harrington sent Thomas a note to tell her that hospital nurses she had never met were still thinking about her.

Now 5 pounds 9 ounces, and growing, baby Charlie will arrive home on June 10 - the day he was supposed to be born - which means he'll be home for Father's Day.

``(I'm going to start) living, doing everything we wanted to do,'' Thomas said. ``Now I have two boys and I'm very excited.''

The second chance at life has made her feel very grateful.

``You have to live your life to the fullest - let nothing hold you back,'' she said.

The former dental-office receptionist has decided she will not return to work. ``Now I'm going to stay home with my two boys,'' she said.

Naush Boghossian, (818) 546-3306

naush.boghossian(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Amanda Thomas was in a coma when son Charlie was born months early. Dad George Thomas gives their baby a kiss.

(2 -- color) George Thomas, 26, watches his son, Charlie, in Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

(3) Amanda Thomas, 26, shares a laugh with Linda Harrington, the Providence Holy Cross Medical Center nurse who helped deliver her premature baby.

Charlotte Schmid-Maybach/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 7, 2003
Words:879
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