Jennifer's Success Story

Published on: 01/12/2012

Big things come in small packages. Jodi and Ron realize this each time they look at their daughter, Jennifer. When Jodi suffered kidney failure just 20 weeks into her pregnancy, her doctors knew little Jennifer was in trouble.

Though they offered little hope for Jennifer’s future, the family refused to give up, and an emergency Cesarean was performed. Jennifer, born at 23 weeks and weighing only 14 ounces, was then rushed to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital. She is now a small but active 2-year-old.

An Unexpected Turn of Events

Jennifer’s dramatic early arrival into the world began after an ultrasound at 20 weeks showed that she was developing on target. Jodi, meanwhile, was slowly swelling and had serious pressure in her head. At a nurse’s recommendation, Jodi checked her blood pressure at a local pharmacy—it was incredibly high. Jodi was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed as being in toxic shock with her kidneys near failure. The doctors were concerned about Jodi’s life, and they soon learned that her baby was in trouble, too.

“The doctors said that even if Jennifer survived, she would probably live a vegetative life,” says Jodi. “But I knew God placed this little life in me for a reason. I couldn’t let her die!”

An Angel Unaware

Jennifer's family had only a few moments to make a difficult decision. Searching for a sign to go through with the Cesarean section delivery, Jodi called the hospital chaplain’s office. “As a Christian, I was calling for a minister or priest,” says Jodi, “but the only person available was a rabbi—it turned out God used him to give me my answer. He made me realize that the doctors and nurses were there to help deliver my baby. I knew this was the answer I needed.”

A Miracle in the Making

After performing the emergency C-section, the doctors took baby Jennifer to an incubator to be stabilized. The umbilical cord had wrapped four times around her neck, a sight the doctors had never seen, and the slow beating of Jennifer’s heart signaled that her heartbeat would stop unless quick action was taken.

Jennifer was transported to Nicklaus Children's Hospital, formerly Miami Children's Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where F. Amed Soliz, MD, neonatologist and Head of the NICU; Pablo Valencia, MD, neonatologist; and their team of nurses immediately went to work saving Jennifer’s life.

“We’d never seen such a small, underweight baby,” says Dr. Soliz. “Fortunately, Nicklaus Children's has the staff and technology to care for this kind of delicate situation.”

At Nicklaus Children's, Jennifer had numerous tubes extending from her tiny body and underwent blood transfusions nearly every day. In addition, her eyes were fused together. The doctors closely monitored her eyes, knowing they had a 24-hour window of time to operate. They performed emergency laser surgery at just the right moment, saving her sight.

Finally, after spending her first four months of life in a hospital, Jennifer went home at barely four pounds— two days before Christmas. Who could ask for a better Christmas present?

A Happy Ending

“We see baby Nebel quite often,” says Dr. Soliz. “She looks so beautiful, smiling and trying to walk.”

“It was a blessing that Jennifer was transported to Nicklaus Children's,” says Jodi. “They saved her life.”

Jennifer is now a happy 2-year-old who loves to play and laugh with her 8-year-old brother, Kevin, and her purple dinosaur, Barney. After recuperating at home for 1 1/2 years, she’s been to the beach and to Mardi Gras at Disney World. She doesn’t slow down for one minute—she’s got too much living to do.

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