A towel-wrapped 1.5-pound male infant—aptly called a "miracle baby"—made it out of a cruise ship and reached the port alive despite being born premature with low chances of survival.
Emily Morgan of Ogden, Utah, who was on a seven-day cruise aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, said doctors did not expect her preemie son Haiden to live.
His strong lungs, an improvised incubator and a timely arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico, likely saved the baby, now receiving care at a Miami neonatal intensive care unit.
The mother was in her 23rd week of pregnancy (the baby was not due until December) and was allowed by her doctor to go on the cruise. On the second day, however, she began to experience labor pains after going to bed.
"I knew the baby was coming," said Morgan, who initially thought of false labor when she started getting contractions but sought help when she and her husband saw blood.
While it remains unclear what caused the mother to go into premature labor, doctors believe it might have been linked to dehydration, an elevation change or the varying temperatures at sea.
With the ship 14 hours away from the nearest Puerto Rican port, she gave birth to Haiden but was told by doctors that she miscarried. She insisted on seeing the baby when her "motherly instincts kicked in," Morgan recalled.
Baby Haiden was initially pronounced dead but was revived and breathing 45 minutes later, although doctors were not optimistic about his odds of survival.
In the next few critical hours, the medical team on board kept Haiden warm using towels and heated saline pads and fed him a dextrose solution until the ship docked in San Juan two hours ahead of schedule—likely saving Haiden’s life, according to local doctors.
"He was crying, like a little feeble cry," said Morgan of her baby, who exhibited relatively good lung function through his cry and healthy pink color.
The family was then rushed to a hospital and transferred to the Miami facility a few days afterward.
Haiden is now making good progress, said Morgan, and being fed breast milk via a syringe attached to a stomach tube.
The preemie is expected to be hospitalized until the supposed Dec. 19 due date, with his family hoping for him to be strong enough to be transferred to a Utah hospital at the end of October and reunited with his sister now being cared for by relatives.
Faced with mounting medical bills, the Morgan family is currently accepting online donations through GoFundMe.