Known as the hospital where the most babies are delivered eachyear in the city of Philadelphia, PAH is theplace where many babies get their very firststart in life. This past spring, Janelle van Leusdan, who now lives in Wheaton,IL, stopped in to visit PennsylvaniaHospital with her son Job – the oldest of her fourchildren – and snap some photos. WithJob still in his graduation cap and gown and clutching his diploma, it wasobvious they were not visiting the hospital as tourists. They were here forsomething more. They were coming back to – for Job – where it all began.
Twenty-four years ago, on March 16, 1989, Janelle was 30 weekspregnant when she was transferred to PAH from Reading Hospital. She didn’t haveenough fluid for her son to grow in utero, and his heart rate was dropping.
“Myobstetrician told me that if my son had any chance to survive it would be atPennsylvania Hospital,” recalled Janelle. Like something out of a movie, thenext thing Janelle knew, she was being whisked away to PAH, via ambulance, hermother and sister trailing behind by car, and her husband on a plane flyinghome from a family wedding in Europe.
“As soon as we arrived at the hospital, the staff was ready andwaiting for us. Everything happened so fast,” said Janelle. After a series oftests, doctors had to prepare Janelle for what she and little Job were upagainst: he had only a ten percent chance of survival, and if he lived, thetiny baby, Job, faced a 90 percent chance suffering from severe mentalretardation and additional abnormalities. It looked as if Job didn’t havedeveloped kidneys, and his heart rate still hadn’t stabilized.
Late on the night of March 17, Janelle was prepped for anemergency cesarean section. “As they were taking me for my spinal, my c-sectionwas suddenly postponed. My case was so risky, my doctor wanted to be sure myhusband saw me before going into the OR. He arrived in the middle of night andcome early the morning of March 18th, I had my c-section.”
Shown at the left is Janellewhen she was finally able to hold Job over a month after his birth.
Job van Leusden was born at a mere one pound eight ounces, and 13inches long. “The first thing he did was pee when he was born so we were allthrilled to know he had kidneys!” said Janelle.
“I will never forget the first time we met with the doctors afterJob’s birth. They said it would be a huge roller coaster ride, and they were right.” Job was so tiny and frail and attached to somany tubes and lines Janelle couldn’t hold him for the whole first month of hislife. By the time he was able to be held, he still only weighed in at twopounds, two ounces. Once Job hit the three pound milestone, he was transferredto the “big boy nursery” in PAH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But thenlittle Job suffered a set-back: He developed a hernia and was transferred toChildren’s Hospital of Philadelphia for surgery. After one week at CHOP, he wasback in the PAH NICU, where he continued to receive specialize care until hewas finally able to go home four months after his birth in July of 1989.