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Quick Thinking Saves Baby Keenan

Published on Dec. 09, 2019

At just five and a half months old, Keenan Jenkins-Jones has a magnetic presence, with a pair of deep, dark eyes that seem to gaze right into your soul. He is a calm, happy baby, cradled by the love of his parents, who seem to soak in every moment with a blend of joy and awe. It is hard to imagine the terrifying ordeal this loving Lake Ann family experienced earlier this year. 

Shortly after his birth this past February, Keenan began to struggle with his breath. After calling 911, Aaron and Rachel found themselves in what could only be described as a nightmarish time that is still too painful for either of them to really speak about. After being rushed to the Emergency Department at Munson Medical Center (MMC) in Traverse City, Keenan stopped breathing. 

“Because he wasn’t breathing, his internal organs were failing,” says Neonatologist and NICU Medical Director Matthew Arnold, MD. 

Munson Medical NICU Team Saved His Life

Dr. Arnold and MMC’s NICU team inserted a breathing tube, which ultimately saved Keenan’s life. The team then quickly reached out to University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, a long-time Munson Healthcare partner, and arranged an air transfer via North FlightAero Med.

“We keep most patients here – I would say over 95 percent – but there are cases where they might need a Level 4 [facility] or a place that has a lot of sub specialists,” Dr. Arnold explains.

Mott kept in close communication with our NICU team, providing daily updates on his progress. Meanwhile, for Aaron and Rachel, it was several agonizing weeks while they waited to learn if their newborn son would respond to medical treatment, stay stabilized, and then regain the strength he needed to return home. Hearing good outcomes of other NICU babies and feeling strengthened by the support of their family and community is what got them through. 

“It really touched us that Dr. Arnold continuously followed up with us and the Mott team. It was obvious he really cared about Keenan’s outcome. We just feel so grateful that he was a part of our experience,” explained mom Rachel. “The way things played out – the right people being in the right place at the right time – we really just feel so much gratitude.”

Baby Keenan Returned Home

On March 17, Keenan was released from Mott and the Jenkins-Jones family finally returned home where they could resume their happy life, filled with the things they had longed to share with Keenan. 

“Some of the most special moments have really been just introducing him to our favorite places and things. Having him be a part of it makes it so much more special,” shares Rachel. “Taking him to Lake Michigan, or walking on our favorite trail, seeing our favorite bands. We took him to East Lansing, which is where Aaron and I met. All of these things that are so special to us – being able to experience them with him has just been such a joy.”

Aaron, who works in Munson Healthcare’s finance department, says he now realizes the importance of the NICU here in northern Michigan and looks forward to the upcoming expansion. “It was very important to his recovery and what he was able to do. It really means a lot to have that so close in our community.”

The family recently popped into our NICU for a visit, bringing along homemade cookies as a small token of their gratitude. Hugs with Dr. Arnold were in order.

“I think Keenan’s story shows us how we can use multiple sub-specialties, multiple areas of medicine, and work together. The ER first responded to Keenan’s needs who then called the NICU for further stabilization followed by a transfer to MOTT’s children’s hospital where multiple sub specialists weighed in on his care. After discharge, Keenan is now being followed by a local pediatrician in addition to our developmental care clinic.”

 

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