Baby Kendall goes home after 460-day NICU stay

After more than a year of being treated in a neonatal intensive care unit, Baby Kendall is finally home.

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Kendall Jurnakins was born at 25 weeks in December 2020. He weighed only 15 ounces, an ounce less than a Starbucks Grande coffee or 3 ounces more than a typical can of Coke.

He was so small, he could fit in the palm of someone’s hand, WTHR reported.

His mother Sparkle Jurnakins had pregnancy-induced hypertension that forced her to deliver early. She also didn’t know she was pregnant until her 23rd week, WXIN reported.

She had also been diagnosed with COVID-19, WTHR reported.

“The doctor came in and said, ‘We’re going to have to take him, he might not make it, but to save your life, we have to take him,’” Jurnakins told WXIN. She delivered her son by emergency cesarean section and was not able to see him for four to five days after giving birth.

Kendall was the baby who had lived at Ascension St. Vincent Women’s NICU the longest, Dr. Taha Ben Saad, the hospital’s medical director, told WRTV.

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While in the NICU he was treated for multiple conditions because he was born so prematurely. He also had many milestones, like getting his first tooth, crawling and turning one year old.

Despite being discharged, Kendall still has a difficult road ahead of him. He will still need to keep his tracheostomy tube and he will remain on a feeding tube, WXIN reported.

But that didn’t matter when he left the NICU. The hallways were lined with those who helped him pull through, cheering him and his mother on as they left.

“This moment, actually, I have no words. It’s such a reward for all of us,” Saad told WTHR. “We’ve waited for this day for a long time and it’s such a reward. And then after all those long days and long nights, this is the best day for us. We forget everything else.”

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