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Premature Baby Thought Dead Breathes Again Hours Later

December 7, 1995

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) _ Experts had given up hope of saving newborn Chase Lear-Carter, but his parents wanted to hold him until the end. Then something wonderful happened: The severely premature infant gasped for air and lived.

``There was nothing we could do except look at him and love him,″ his 21-year-old father, Nicholas Carter, said.

The baby, who was born 16 weeks premature and weighed less than 2 pounds, clung to life on a ventilator Wednesday.

When Chase was born Saturday, he had a faint heartbeat and wasn’t breathing properly. The medical staff tried to resuscitate him but the infant did not respond.

The baby’s parents held him even as the death certificate was being prepared. Then, three hours after he was born, the infant revived.

``Medical science can’t explain everything,″ said Susan Watts, a spokeswoman for Bronson Methodist Hospital. ``We see a lot of amazing things every day.″

Chase’s mother, Shannon Lear, 19, didn’t give up hope. ``Whenever they told me they didn’t believe the baby was going to survive, I didn’t want to believe it,″ she said.

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

The survival rate of infants 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.

He 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 again.

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

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

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