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Special Delivery Miracle-Birth; Preemie Defies Odds

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BURBANK - Baby Charlie, born months early while his mother was deep in a coma, is going home next week after five months in a Burbank hospital.

Able to fit into the palm of a hand at his birth, on Feb. 26, he now fits snugly in the arms of his mother, fully recovered Amanda Thomas of Palmdale.

"He's a little miracle child that we had, and I didn't think it would happen," father George Thomas, 26, said Friday, smiling as he prepared for his infant son's homecoming.

"There were a lot of prayers," he said. "I cried a bunch. Real men do cry."

Charlie was born 24 weeks into his mother's pregnancy and eight days after she fell into a coma while being sedated for viral pneumonia at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills.

Less than two hours after nurses realized that Amanda Thomas was having contractions, the unconscious woman delivered a 1-pound, 10- ounce boy.

"Your baby's doing fine. Be strong," veteran nurse Linda Harrington had told the unconscious mother, over and over.

George Thomas recalled his astonishment the day nurses at Holy Cross called him and said he was going to be a father in a few short hours. The couple already have a 2-year-old, George V.

"He was a little lightweight," the proud dad, a microwave radio technician, said of his second son. "I saw him kicking around and although he couldn't open his eyes yet he was turning his head around."

Doctors had been deeply concerned about Amanda Thomas' labor because she was suffering a cascading series of system failures - her lungs and kidneys were not working properly. There was fear that the pre-term infant, with no immune system, would be subject to the infection.

Shortly after his birth, Charles Gabriel Thomas was sent to the neonatal intensive care unit at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, where he was been cared for ever since.

Thomas awakened from her six-week coma - after medication was pulled back - to find her husband at her bedside and learn she was a new mother.

"When I first saw (Charlie), I was very happy and very sad because he was still hooked up to machines," she said. "It was a battle for both of us to make it."

The medical staff insists both Charlie and his mother are miracles. The prognosis for each had been grave.

"Way to go, baby girl," her husband said Friday, squeezing his wife's hand as he looked at her.

For Nurse Harrington of Holy Cross, the unexpected happy ending has a place in her heart.

"This is one of the special ones that you'll remember years later," she said.

On Mother's Day, Harrington sent Thomas a note to tell her that hospital nurses she never met were still thinking about her.

And at 5 pounds, 9 ounces and growing, baby Charlie is due home Tuesday - the day he was supposed to be born. He should be home for Father's Day.

"(I'm going to start) living, doing everything we wanted to do," Amanda Thomas said. "Now I have two boys and I'm very excited."

This second chance at life has made her very grateful.

"You have to live your life to the fullest - let nothing hold you back," she said.

The former dental office receptionist has decided she will not return to work.

"Now I'm going to stay home with my two boys," she said.

Naush Boghossian, (818) 546-3306


(C) 2003 Los Angeles Daily News. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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