‘Tiny miracles’

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 16, 1999

Almost five months after he was born, Landon Kirchner was reunited with some of his fellow premature babies, some of whom endured incredible hardships.

Monday, August 16, 1999

Almost five months after he was born, Landon Kirchner was reunited with some of his fellow premature babies, some of whom endured incredible hardships.

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And while he’s too young to appreciate it, his parents are grateful for the opportunity to visit with parents who have experienced the same struggles and triumphs.

Brad and Jody Kirchner, Landon’s parents, joined more than 500 other parents, patients and health care providers at the 15th Annual May Eugenio Litta Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Reunion at the beginning of the month. Children who were patients from 1993 to 1999, along with their families, physicians and allied health staff were invited to attend the reunion.

&uot;It was a chance to thank the nurses and the rest of the staff for all that they had done,&uot; said Jody Kirchner. &uot;And I think the nurses like to see the babies again.&uot;

&uot;Another reason behind it was to come back and celebrate all the little miracles. It was kind of a show and tell,&uot; said Brad Kirchner, Landon’s father.

The Kirchners indeed had a lot to celebrate and a healthy baby to show off.

Born more than two months early, Landon weighed only three pounds, four ounces and was only 15 inches long. But like some of the other babies, he’s doing well.

&uot;Everyone is doing really good. It’s fun to see how they’ve changed and gotten bigger,&uot; said Brad Kirchner.

Landon is especially hearty, currently weighing more than 10 pounds and close to 23 inches long.

While Landon is healthy now, it was still a difficult time, his parents said. And the support of other parents helped the Kirchners pull through.

&uot;We all had our bad days. And everything happened on different days. That news would spread through the unit, and we would support whoever was going through hard times,&uot; said Brad Kirchner.

For 54 days while Landon remained in the neonatal unit, the Kirchners drove back and forth to Rochester every day after work.

&uot;There were times that it was scary, but overall they just kept him there so he could grow,&uot; Landon’s mother said.

The scare came when the doctors found a type of heart murmur. Landon had a reaction to the medication he was given that could have damaged his small intestine. But the baby fully recovered.

&uot;It was kind of touch and go when that happened,&uot; said his father. &uot;But that was the only time that something scary happened.&uot;

Landon is now thriving.

&uot;He’s been lucky. His eyes, hearing, reflexes are all OK,&uot; he said. Along with the lungs, those areas can present problems for premature babies if the systems are not fully developed.

While the Kirchners realize how lucky they are that their child has a clean bill of health, they also know they were fortunate the staff knew how to handle the situation.

The neonatal unit from Rochester arrived at Albert Lea Medical Center just minutes before the baby was born.

&uot;We got to see him for about five seconds and we didn’t get to hold him,&uot; Jody said.

The neonatal unit began immediately caring for the child, checking for some of the maladies that are common with babies born that early.

&uot;They actually kept him here three hours before taking him to Rochester because he was so good,&uot; said Jody Kirchner.

&uot;We’re just so happy and thankful that the hospital staff here knew what to do,&uot; said Brad Kirchner. &uot;From doctors to nurses to secretaries, everyone helped out.&uot;

&uot;Our friends and neighbors were helpful too,&uot; his mother added. &uot;They kept him in their prayers.&uot;