Janet Crowe ( Sidewalk Jesus )
What are we willing to spend?
Isn’t it interesting how the media managed to barely squeeze in its scant coverage of a medical miracle last month but gave ad nauseam exposure of updated rankings in the primary polls and repeated reporting of ongoing cases of corruption?
A tiny baby, the third smallest baby on record to survive, left the hospital in her mother’s arms in late January after almost five months of neonatal care in a California hospital. Yet the news seemed to give little emphasis to how the child overcame almost insurmountable odds.Born on August 30, at only 24 weeks of gestation, Melinda Star Guido’s arrival in this world was 16 weeks early. Weighing only 9.5 ounces, less than a can of soda, Melinda was not expected to live beyond a few days. The tiny “miracle baby,” as doctor’s described her, was smaller at birth than the doctor’s hand who delivered her into this world.
Melinda faced tremendous odds, even with the medical technology of the one of the most advanced countries of the world. Although approximately 7,500 babies weighing less than a pound are born each year in the United States, only 10 percent of them survive. In fact, the doctors who saved her life admitted that most hospitals and doctors would have allowed her to die. The survival rate of babies weighing less than a pound just isn’t statistically strong enough to warrant the enormous expenses and extensive care involved as well as the possibility of ongoing complications throughout her life.Melinda’s mother and father both pleaded with doctors to give her a chance at life. Her parents were willing to accept the possibility of future difficulties in caring for their tiny daughter. Although the hospital had never before succeeded in saving a premature baby weighing less than 14 ounces, they agreed to give her a chance. Just less than five months later, only a few weeks later than her expected due date, Melinda appeared unfazed by the celebrations of the hospital staff and her proud parents as she left the hospital for her first trip to her new home.
In a similar but much more publicized incident, a little more than twenty-four years ago this nation was riveted to its television sets, holding its collective breath, in prayerful anticipation of the possible rescue of a toddler from a backyard well. A constantly expanding team of paramedics, police, and firemen called in more experts, equipment, and various resources to rescue eighteen-monthold Jessica McClure who had fallen down a shaft approximately 29 feet deep by only eight inches wide. For 58 hours, rescuers worked nonstop to save the child’s life. Television crews monitored the efforts and reported every inch of progress and every heartrending setback to a nation praying for her release from what could have been her early tomb.
No one questioned whether flying in experts and trucking in expensive equipment was worth the cost. No one advised the workers to just give up because statistics were against her successful recovery. No one counseled the parents that they should cut their losses because their daughter might emerge with considerable physical injuries or even lifelong psychological problems after being trapped underground for more than two days. No one tried to put a price tag on the potential injuries that might cost more money than her young parents could afford. Was it worth the backbreaking work, the exhaustive anxiety, the immense expense to rescue Baby Jessica? The television-watching nation and the townspeople who lined the streets to cheer her along on her way to the hospital, as well as the workers who were proclaimed as heroes, all seemed to think so. Every minute was worth it to save one baby’s life.
In the same way, was it worth the high price tag and the months of intensive neonatal care to help miracle baby Melinda have a fighting chance at life? One look at internet photos of Melinda’s mother’s face, at her father’s proud smile, would indicate a resounding yes. Without knowing what difficulties lay ahead of their daughter, Melinda’s parents plan to face life one day at a time. But, then, isn’t that what every parent does when leaving the hospital with a newborn miracle? It doesn’t matter how healthy or how frail, tomorrow’s challenges are unknown to us. We simply face them as they come and pray for the strength to overcome the obstacles.There will be many people who complain bitterly about the money and resources used in keeping baby Melinda alive. Hopefully, there will be millions more who recognize that there cannot be a cost assigned to a human life because each life is priceless. A baby born sixteen weeks premature is priceless. An eighteenmonth- old toddler trapped in a dark hole is priceless. A baby developing in the womb is priceless.
From the very first moment of conception until the moment God alone calls us home to Him, each and every human is priceless. No price tag is needed.
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