Emma’s story: How the Maynard Children’s Hospital helped a micro-preemie grow into a thriving toddler

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 2:46 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - This weekend will bring with it our 2021 Children’s Miracle Network Telethon to benefit the Maynard Children’s Hospital in Greenville.

Over the years we’ve brought you countless stories of the children’s lives changed by the tireless efforts of staff at the hospital.

One of those lives is that of 2-year-old Emma Lewis, of Dudley, who came into this world at 24-weeks-old weighing just one pound, six ounces. A child that small is considered a micro-preemie.

Being born so early comes with it numerous challenges including premature lungs. For that, Emma had to be intubated during her early weeks to help her breathe.

“Every time we would try to take the tube out for her to breathe, she just couldn’t breathe on her own,” said Gabby Lewis, Emma’s mother, “Everything collapsed in on itself. We ended up having to do the trach. And she also has a G-tube because of that to help with the feeding component.”

The tracheotomy involves the placing of a tube that would allow her to breathe on the go.

Emma would spend more than 220 days at the Maynard Children’s Hospital. That much time spent at any hospital would be a challenge, but Emma, Gabby, and dad, Deric, found a community of medical professionals ready to help them navigate this uncertain time.

“Honestly coming both from a medical standpoint and a mother standpoint they were just so open and honest and that’s really what you need,” said Gabby, “And at the same time, the honesty that was there the level of compassion they offered was outstanding.”

“Keeping us involved was really important to us. We didn’t feel like we were at a hospital. Even a lot of the nurses and everybody there felt more like family,” Deric said.

Donations to the Children’s Miracle Network made purchases like the NICVIEW cameras possible along with other equipment.

“It’s a little webcam that basically you pointed at her when she was in her little incubator, and we got to see her whenever we wanted,” Deric said.

“Even when it comes down to a mamaRoo which is a little rocker that she tolerated so well her oxygen saturation would always climb when she was able to be in it and that’s because of donations that were given to the hospital for them to be able to buy this type of stuff,” said Gabby.

On July 26th, Emma will have airway reconstructive surgery.

“Huge, huge matter for us. We’ll be able to hear her speak for the first time. So that’s going to be emotional and I’m sure she’ll be excited to say the least once she’ll be able to hear her own voice,” Gabby said.

Until that next challenge, it’s all about having fun with mom and dad.

“She’s everywhere she’s a little rascal. You’d never know the journey she’s been through just looking at her,” Deric said, “She’s everywhere she’s full of energy, very happy baby. She loves cuddling dad and wrestling mommy.”

You can help make sure miracles like Emma’s continue to happen by tuning in and making a pledge this Sunday during our Children’s Miracle Network telethon.

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