Baby born 1 pound, 11 ounces leaves hospital with help of "Team Tommy"
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A circle of love surrounds Thomas Jeffrey Kowalski. It's almost as if he knew it was coming and rushed to meet the world 15 weeks early.
His mom, Morgan, says she was brought to the emergency room with contractions in June. "I thought they were going to tell me that I was being dramatic about the pain and to go home and take a Tylenol," she told 13WHAM's Jane Flasch. "Four hours later, I was having a baby."
Tommy was born weighing one pound, 11 ounces. His mom's wedding ring could slip over his hand. His big toe was the size of a grain of rice. "I wasn't sure if a baby could even live being born at 25 weeks, so it was an extremely scary moment for us," said Jeff Kowalski, Tommy's father.
"He's absolutely a little fighter," said Dr. Andrew Dylag a neonatologist at Golisano Children's Hospital. He says Tommy's lungs had not fully developed by his birth and were not functioning on their own. "Tommy was on a breathing machine for seven weeks. He was needing an incubator to keep him warm."
Nurses, doctors and staff joined "Team Tommy" - a name coined by family friends who also had t-shirts made. In their care, the tiny baby grew and grew stronger. "Other parents, they don't think about holding their baby for the first time as being a milestone or feeding their baby. Giving that first bath," said Morgan. "That's something we had to wait months to do, so when those things came for us they were so special."
1,200 babies are treated in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) each year. About 150 of them are extremely premature. "We had only the best care possible, and I think that is the difference in why Tommy is here with us today - a strong, healthy six pound, 11 ounce boy," said Jeff.
Tommy continues to use a feeding tube but he no longer needs help to breathe. After 115 days, it's time for his biggest adventure so far: Checking out of the hospital and heading home.
"We are finally going to be together as a family. I didn't think we would get to this point. I'm speechless," said Morgan.