Child born weighing 1 pound goes home after spending 19 months of her life in NICU

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Child born weighing 1 pound goes home after spending 19 months of her life in NICU.
Child born weighing 1 pound goes home after spending 19 months of her life in NICU. Via: Darlene Foster.

After being hospitalized for the first 19th months of her life, a Massachusetts toddler who weighed over one pound at birth is being sent home with her parents.

Bradi Foster was born in Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on August 9, 2020. At 25 weeks old, she had a series of health problems. She underwent cardiac surgery and needed a ventilator to breathe.

One month after her birth, Bradi was transferred to the NICU at Boston Children’s Hospital where she spent nearly her first year of life.

“I think they said it was around 40% chance of survival,” James Foster said about his daughter’s condition at birth. “Her lungs were not fully developed so she needed a lot of assistance just breathing and regulating her oxygen.”

Child born weighing 1 pound goes home after spending 19 months of her life in NICU.
Child born weighing 1 pound goes home after spending 19 months of her life in NICU. Via: Darlene Foster.

The Fosters were already parents to three older daughters, ages 6, 4, and 3. They had to wait nine days before they could hold Bradi.

“It was scary,” Darlene Foster said. “She was smaller than our hands.”

Bradi battled a number of infections. According to her parents, she had lung and gastrointestinal issues. She underwent around 10 major surgeries and a dozen smaller ones.

Due to being born early in the pandemic, the Fosters said they were typically allowed to have just one person with her at the hospital. The commute between the hospital and their home was 75 minutes.

“It was the toughest thing leaving our home to go to Boston to go see her and then have her sisters be like, ‘We want to go too. We want to see our sister,’” Darlene Foster said. “And some of the times I would just watch her in her little isolette and just look because she was sometimes too sick to hold.”

After five months, Bradi became so sick that she needed an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, machine. It removes carbon dioxide from the blood and sends back oxygenized blood for the heart and lungs to heal.

Darlene Foster kisses Bradi on the cheek.
Darlene Foster kisses Bradi on the cheek. Via: Darlene Foster.

Once a tracheostomy was performed, Bradi’s condition improved. She no longer needed sedatives to keep her breathing tube in place.

“We finally got to see her smile. Her eyes opened and she wanted to play,” Darlene Foster said. “We completely got our baby as soon as she got her trach.”

In July 2021, Bradi was transferred to Franciscan Children’s Hospital. It is a post-acute rehabilitation center near Boston where she has been spending the next nine months of her life. While she was there, Bradi grew stronger and became more active.

“Franciscan’s has gotten her so far with her physical therapist and coming here on complete IV nutrition,” James Foster said. “Now, she’s completely off of IV nutrition.”

James Foster holds Bradi while she's still in the NICU.
James Foster holds Bradi while she’s still in the NICU. Via: Darlene Foster.

When Bradi left the hospital with her parents, the doctors and nurses gave her a spend off by showering her with bubbles. They gave her an adaptive backpack, provided by The Kid Fund, which is an employee-sponsored group at Franciscan Children’s.

“What they do for kids like Bradi is they put all their feeding equipment in their backpack, and there’s a little tube that goes to them and it gives them full mobility,” said Amanda Voysey, a member of Kid Fund.

Bradi Foster received a bubble send-off from Franciscan Children's after being discharged.
Bradi Foster received a bubble send-off from Franciscan Children’s after being discharged. Via: Franciscan Children’s.

Now that she’s home, Bradi has a tracheostomy tube and gastrostomy tube (g-tube) for nutrition. Her parents believe that both tubes will eventually be removed in the near future. Bradi began eating some pureed food by mouth while still needing her g-tube.

The Fosters are confident that Bradi will grow up happy and healthy. “We definitely have high hopes that she will be a normal kid,” James Foster said. “but it’s just going to take a little bit longer for us to get all those things out and progress her to where she should be for her age. But we definitely believe that she will be fully capable.”

Bradi Foster plays with her sisters after going home from NICU.
Bradi Foster plays with her sisters after going home from NICU. Via: Darlene Foster.

Bradi now lives at home in Plymouth with her family and their dog. She’s very happy to finally be with them after all this time. The family says that Bradi’s 6-year-old sister will become a pediatrician after seeing the work that the doctors did to save her little sister.

“It is the best feeling in the world,” Darlene Foster said. “We just want to give hope to any other NICU parents, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

No matter the odds, we hope that more babies from NICU will improve so they can grow up to be happy and healthy.

If you would like to donate to the family for medical expenses, please visit their GoFundMe page.

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