A team of childbirth and neonatal experts at Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital, recently delivered and cared for a baby born just over 1 pound.


The baby, Khaiel White, is home with his family to start the new year after four months in the hospital. Khaiel was delivered via emergency C-section on Aug. 30, 2019 at just 27 weeks due to complications from improper blood and oxygen flow from the placenta, hindering his development in the womb. He is the smallest patient delivered at Houston Methodist Willowbrook, said Dr. Latricia Thompson, the OB-GYN at Houston Methodist Willowbrook who delivered White.


“From the very beginning, we involve a maternal fetal medicine specialist to do anatomy scans and identify any issues early on. Because of early recognition of problems with the growth, we kept a close eye on the fetus and how it was progressing,” said Thompson. “With that close follow-up, we were able to anticipate any problems, she said.


After White was born, he was immediately transferred to the NICU, where he spent 98 days under the close watch of a group of specialists that included neonatologists, a neonatal nurse practitioner, specially-trained nurses, respiratory therapists and more. He was discharged on Dec. 6, 2019 at a healthy weight without needing a feeding tube, breathing machines or medication, except for a prescribed multivitamin.


White’s mom Olufunbi said on the day Khaiel was ready to go home, she and her husband felt like champions.


“We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. We’re eternally grateful for each and every person who cared for my baby. They’ll each hold a special place in our hearts,” Olufunbi said.


“Our hospital has close to 4,000 deliveries a year, and many of those deliveries are high risk. Our ability to provide a level III NICU allows us to take on more high risk cases here in the community and create successful outcomes like this,” said Dr. Athis Arunachalam, medical director of the Houston Methodist Willowbrook NICU. “It also helps the community by keeping moms close to their babies and their families so that they can get the support they need right here in their neighborhood.”


Babies in the NICU also receive 24/7 monitoring with automated warning indicators if their vitals become abnormal, skin to skin contact with mom to help with bonding and, in the event the mother is not able to breastfeed, donated human breast milk to help develop a strong immune system.


“One of the most powerful events that happened with Khaiel was in just 12 hours, we were able to take out his breathing tube and place him on a CPAP machine for oxygen,” said Arunachalam. “That to me is a mark of a high-functioning unit. You can only do that when you have a strong medical care team, from the physicians to the respiratory specialists to the nurses. It’s not common place to have a team of this caliber in the community.”


Houston Methodist Willowbrook also recently completed upgrades to its Childbirth Center to help increase its capacity to care for new moms and their babies at all development stages. The expansions include a new antepartum unit with fetal monitoring and cardiac telemetry monitoring capability.


For more information about the Childbirth Center at Houston Methodist Willowbrook and its level III NICU, visit houstonmethodist.org/childbirth-wb