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Premature Baby Nearly Declared Dead Clings to Life

December 7, 1995

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) _ Weighing less than 2 pounds and born 16 weeks premature, Chase Lear-Carter today clung to a life his parents and doctors had been ready to forsake.

Nicholas Carter and Shannon Lear were holding their newborn Saturday, preparing to say goodbye while his death certificate and funeral papers were being prepared. Doctors had said the boy’s situation was essentially hopeless after efforts to get him to start breathing properly failed.

But three hours after his birth, Chase gasped for air through his underdeveloped lungs and made a sound. He was placed immediately on a ventilator, where he remained today in critical condition.

``Its a hard feeling to explain when you lose a child, then you find out he’s come back to life,″ said Carter, 21. ``There’s an overwhelming feeling of joy, like when he was first born.″

Lear, 19, never gave up hope for her son.

``Whenever they told me they didn’t believe the baby was going to survive, I didn’t want to believe it,″ she said.

The survival rate of babies born at 24 weeks is 40 percent to 50 percent, said Dr. Jonathan Muraskas, a specialist in the care of high-risk infants.

Muraskas, of Chicago’s Loyola University Medical Center, said it is not uncommon for babies to show signs of life hours after a failed attempt at resuscitation, but those babies are still at great risk of brain damage, blindness and other problems. He argued it was better to let nature take its course than to put a baby through such an ordeal.

Chase is expected to remain at the hospital through March and may have developmental problems because of the early delivery.

``It’s too early to tell whether or not he will continue to survive or, if he does, if there will be any″ physical problems, hospital spokeswoman Susan Watts said.

Muraskas pointed out possible problems from the lack of oxygen, including retardation, and wondered if it was a good idea to put Chase on the ventilator.

``It’s an ethical area,″ he said. ``They’re really pushing the envelope.″

Watts, however, said the family was told of the risks, ``and it was at their request that we continued the resuscitation.″

Carter said he and Lear would face any problems with Chase as they arise.

``As far as we’re concerned, there’s nothing wrong with him now and that’s all that matters,″ he said. ``We know there are risks of him having brain damage or organ damage. But if he does, we’ll just have to deal with it.″

``I think he’s going to make it. He’s just a big fighter. He follows his name. He chases after his life.″

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