Saving Baby Jace

Sometimes just one thing can change the course of a life. For Lydia and Rocky Campbell, it happened on a cold day in December.

It was the first day of the ice storm, December 10, 2007. Rocky was home because of hazardous road conditions. Lydia had arranged a play date for her children Courtlynn and Jace, with her friend, Molly who had kids the same age as hers. Lydia’s father, two sisters and brother also joined them. There was pizza for the children and chili for the adults.

After the children played for a while, it was naptime. Lydia put three and one-half month old Jace down on his belly on her bed with pillows propped around him like she had done in the past—nothing unusual. He napped for three hours with his parents checking on him every fifteen minutes. It would soon be time for him to eat, so Bethany, Lydia’s sister, went in to wake the baby boy.

“He was just flat on his face and I felt his back to check his breathing. I moved his head, but he didn’t move it back like he usually did,” Bethany said. She ran to get her sister. Both knew something was terribly wrong. The baby was not breathing. Lydia started screaming and her father rushed in, put Jace down on the floor and started CPR.

Someone called 911 while Molly ran outside to find help. She grabbed a neighbor who happened to have prior experience with administering infant CPR and took over from Lydia’s dad.

Amazingly, on streets covered with ice, Edmond Police arrived within seven minutes of being called. EMSA and firefighters followed shortly.

Edmond police officer, Nathan Fountain was the first on the scene. “When I first saw him, he was lying on his side on the floor and he was totally blue,” Fountain said. “He was by all rights dead. It was as if I was holding a dead baby.”

By this time Lydia had escalated to near hysteria, screaming at them to hurry. She felt everything happening in slow motion. She saw her baby dying and stood thinking, from here on, life will be separated into two parts: before this day happened and after.

Paramedics struggled to get Jace’s heart to start beating again. Unable to find a vein, they had to place the IV into the baby’s bone marrow through his knee, a rare but necessary procedure. But before they loaded the baby onto a stretcher and into the ambulance, he had a pulse again.

That night, Jace Campbell was stabilized and monitored in a room at the Edmond Hospital Emergency Room until a room became available at Children’s Hospital in Oklahoma City. There he spent ten days in the Pediatric ICU and for eight of those days he was intubated because he could not breathe on his own.

Though the doctors said that Jace would live, they could give no encouraging words as to his quality of life after such trauma. They said he had experienced near SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Later, it was determined that he had Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) and might never come off the ventilator. They also felt Jace might never regain voluntary movement of his body.

Today, at six months old, Jace Campbell has defied the odds. He is breathing on his own and doing many of the things that doctors predicted he would never do again, including voluntary movement.

“I knew it wasn’t the end. I knew it wasn’t over,” said Rocky. “I knew he was going to come home again.”

Officer Fountain visited Jace, both in the hospital and after he returned home. He said that after holding the baby and seeing how far he had come, he simply lost control of his emotions. Fountain stays in touch with the family saying the experience has had a profound impact on his life.

“I saw a miracle that day,” he said. “You don’t see miracles very often.”

Lives are still being touched and changed by Jace’s experience through a website set up for him. By visiting those interested can sign the guest book and get updated information on his progress.

Upon reflection, Lydia said, “I’ll never care if my house is clean again or if my kids are dressed up cute.”
Rocky says that his life has forever been changed by the experience. “I don’t care if I never do anything else when I come home from work but just hold him. I’m just thankful we’re able to hold him.”

SIDS claims the lives of 2,500 infants each year in the United States. It remains unpredictable, despite years of research.

Only the week before the incident, Lydia Campbell had read a magazine article about the fact that SIDS happened predominantly to baby boys and that it afflicted babies between the ages of two months and four months old. She is thankful her son did not become one of those statistics.

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