The smallest patient ... is growing up
Last year, a specialty team at Summerlin Hospital Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, changed the lives of an Arizona family. Alejandra and Tio Mejia longed to have a family. Medical complications caused Alejandra to lose her first child 21 weeks into her pregnancy and the couple learned she might not be able to carry a pregnancy full-term. That’s when Paul T. Wilkes, MD, of Desert Perinatal Associates, offered them a chance.
In March 2015, the couple had moved from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Phoenix, Arizona, when they learned Alejandra was pregnant again. A few weeks later trouble began. “I started having problems with this pregnancy and when I went to my doctor in Arizona I wasn’t given much hope. They said I would probably lose this baby too,” said Alejandra. That’s when the couple reached out to Dr. Wilkes in Las Vegas, who offered them a “one in a million chance” that the baby would be born. “We jumped at that chance, got in our car and drove five and half hours to Las Vegas,” she said.
For the next seven weeks, Alejandra remained in Las Vegas, counting each hour that passed, hoping her pregnancy would last as long as possible. Unfortunately, even with several surgical procedures and constant medication, Alexander was born 18 weeks prematurely. Weighing less than one pound, he was rushed to Summerlin Hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “He was so small we couldn’t touch him, talk to him or stimulate him in any way,” the new mom said. “We covered his incubator with his blanket and just sat by his side, praying and wishing for him to make it.”
Alexander spent five months in the NICU, where neonatologists, nurses and therapists helped him thrive and grow significantly and thrive. On December 1, Alexander was taken home to Phoenix where he spent Christmas, celebrated the new year and finally began breathing on his own without oxygen.
“He weighs 11 pounds now,” Alejandra said, “and he’s so alert and happy. When I read to him, he babbles, he looks around, holds his head up and just loves when people visit and we have the entire staff at Summerlin Hospital and Universal Health Services to thank.”