Known as the hospital where the most babies are delivered each year in the city of Philadelphia, PAH is the place where many babies get their very first start in life. This past spring, Janelle van Leusdan, who now lives in Wheaton, IL, stopped in to visit Pennsylvania Hospital with her son Job – the oldest of her four children – and snap some photos. With Job still in his graduation cap and gown and clutching his diploma, it was obvious they were not visiting the hospital as tourists. They were here for something more. They were coming back to – for Job – where it all began.
Twenty-four years ago, on March 16, 1989, Janelle was 30 weeks pregnant when she was transferred to PAH from Reading Hospital. She didn’t have enough fluid for her son to grow in utero, and his heart rate was dropping.
“As soon as we arrived at the hospital, the staff was ready and waiting for us. Everything happened so fast,” said Janelle. After a series of tests, doctors had to prepare Janelle for what she and little Job were up against: he had only a ten percent chance of survival, and if he lived, the tiny baby, Job, faced a 90 percent chance suffering from severe mental retardation and additional abnormalities. It looked as if Job didn’t have developed kidneys, and his heart rate still hadn’t stabilized.
Late on the night of March 17, Janelle was prepped for an emergency cesarean section. “As they were taking me for my spinal, my c-section was suddenly postponed. My case was so risky, my doctor wanted to be sure my husband saw me before going into the OR. He arrived in the middle of night and come early the morning of March 18th, I had my c-section.”
Shown at the left is Janelle when she was finally able to hold Job over a month after his birth.
Job van Leusden was born at a mere one pound eight ounces, and 13 inches long. “The first thing he did was pee when he was born so we were all thrilled to know he had kidneys!” said Janelle.
“I will never forget the first time we met with the doctors after Job’s birth. They said it would be a huge roller coaster ride, and they were right.” Job was so tiny and frail and attached to so many tubes and lines Janelle couldn’t hold him for the whole first month of his life. By the time he was able to be held, he still only weighed in at two pounds, two ounces. Once Job hit the three pound milestone, he was transferred to the “big boy nursery” in PAH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But then little Job suffered a set-back: He developed a hernia and was transferred to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for surgery. After one week at CHOP, he was back in the PAH NICU, where he continued to receive specialize care until he was finally able to go home four months after his birth in July of 1989.