Going the Distance to Save a Life
The call from Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC) in Salisbury, Maryland, came in to Children’s National Hospital a little after 2 a.m. A micro-preemie on Maryland’s Eastern Shore needed urgent support from our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Grayson was born at 24 weeks gestation on the way to PRMC in the middle of a snowstorm. He weighed less than 2 pounds, had multiple brain bleeds and needed help breathing. The weather had grounded helicopter transport. NICU transport nurse Meghan Sullivan, along with paramedic Tom Hobbs and an emergency vehicle operator, set out to make the 150-mile trip from Children’s National across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on treacherous, untreated roads.
They considered turning around more than once. Meghan, originally from New England, had made it through worse. Four difficult hours later, they arrived.
The hospital in Salisbury had done an amazing job stabilizing the baby, Meghan says. It would take another three hours to transport Grayson to the NICU at Children’s National. Snowplow escorts across four counties smoothed their way back, thanks to Salisbury’s mayor and the Maryland State Highway Administration. For much of the ride, Meghan held Grayson in mid-air to protect his brain from even the slightest bump. “Micro-preemies are fragile from head to toe,” she says, “but the blood vessels in their brain are particularly weak and at risk for bleeding, which can cause lasting damage.” The roundtrip to save Grayson took nine hours and 38 minutes.
Meghan followed Grayson’s progress over the next 15 weeks as he fought infections, learned to breathe on his own and eat. Meghan says she feels lucky, “to have helped him get better, go home with his family and grow up stronger.”