Now that’s a positive outcome.
Paul Talanoa never thought he would be working for the pediatric hospital that saved his life as an infant.
Born in 1981, three months premature and weighing 1 pound 7 ounces, Talanoa was a twin, though his twin brother passed away a few days after birth.
"I didn’t know who the doctors and nurses were that saved my life until I started working at Children’s," said Talanoa. "It wasn’t until I spoke with them that it sunk in."
Talanoa paid a visit to the doctor who cared for him after birth, Dr. Nadarasa Visveshwara (Dr. Vish), program director of newborn medicine at Children’s.
"The reason I remember him so well is because of all of the misfortunate events that happened on the way to help him," said Dr. Vish.
Dr. Vish had been on his way home when he received an urgent page. He rushed to the nearest payphone – as cell phones weren’t around yet – but it didn’t work. Hurrying to the next payphone, he responded to the page. Detoured by an oil spill, then delayed by a train crossing, he finally made it to the rescue.
With breathing tubes in place, Talanoa was brought to Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
"The more premature they are, the more immature their systems are. We support each of their systems until their body is strong enough to take over on its own," said Dr. Vish. "It’s the whole team, respiratory therapists, nurses and nutritionists."
At the time, survival rates for neonates like Paul were less then 50 percent.
A bedside nurse in the NICU at the time, JoAnn Sindt was part of the team that cared for Talanoa.
"We were affected even more than usual because he was the surviving twin," said Sindt, now a charge nurse in the Hospital’s 88-bed NICU at the main campus. "His lungs collapsed more than once because they were so immature."
Talanoa spent nearly three months in an incubator on a breathing machine, fed through a tube. Gradually his body became stronger and he was able to go home to his parents Jan and Nano Talanoa.
"For a baby of that size to grow up with no complications is a big deal for us," said Dr. Vish.
Talanoa’s life came full-circle September 10, 2001 when he began working at Children’s. Now 28, Talanoa is a technical support analyst, troubleshooting computer issues and managing network resources.
"If Children’s wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be here either," said Talanoa.