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Faced With Heartbreak, Parents Agonize Over the Fate of Their Newborn
By Moira McMahon, Researcher
In Episode 315, 'Till Death Do Us Part, Addison, Naomi and Pete can't stop Shira Cole's baby from coming into the world at twenty-five weeks. That's just on the edge of viability for a newborn.
After months in the Neonatal Intensive Unit, some babies are able to continue developing until they are ready to leave the hospital for life at home. They man face a multitude of health challenges, but many become healthy children over time. But some babies are not as fortunate. Brain bleeds and severe intestinal problems, underdeveloped lungs and vision impairments can come with prematurity. Little baby Langston has all of these challenges. Even worse, necrotizing entercolitis has already taken hold in his little belly. He won't be able to digest food properly. If this little fighter makes it through, a lifetime of surgeries, transplants and diminished quality of life await.
When you are a parent, you only want what is best for your child. Faced with devastating news, Shira and Matthew go between hoping for a miracle and just hoping to hold their newborn son. Betting on bad odds, they push for Langston to have surgery to remove the diseased intestines, but the damage is beyond repair. Addison won't go into surgery again. Pete tells Matthew that to love his son means to let him go.
Matthew and Shira decide to end the medical intervention. Removing the ventilator and IV's, they hold their son. They stand together as a family, for the first and last time, as Langston slips away.
It seems like they made the humane choice. But people have overcome incredible odds to live full lives. Should they have decided that Langston would never be one of these people? Could they have at least given him the chance?
What do you think?