2 NYPD officers bring home 17-month-old 'miracle baby' after months of training

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Thursday, September 8, 2022
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After months of recovery and training at Blythedale, two NYPD officers are taking their medically fragile child home on Thursday. Darla Miles has the story.

VALHALLA, New York (WABC) -- After months of recovery and training, two NYPD officers are taking their medically fragile child home for the very first time on Thursday.

Officers Anna Rivera and Diana Vasquez have been training to care for 17-month-old River Omari Rivera since last fall.

He will finally be discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

River was born early at 26 weeks due to preeclampsia at 2 pounds, 2 ounces.

But being born tiny and premature wasn't the problem.

"The thing that was unusual about River is that he had some kind of arrest of his lungs during the middle of the pregnancy and as a result his airways were unusually small," said Dr. Dennis Davidson.

He was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease typically seen in prematurely born infants reliant on intensive oxygen therapy.

River uses a ventilator to breathe and a g-tube for nutrition.

He was admitted Blythedale Children's Hospital in October 2021 for ventilator weaning and feeding therapy. Soon after arriving, his mothers started training to bring him home.

The officers learned how to manage his tracheostomy tube, respond if he's losing oxygen and place and clean his g-tube for feedings.

"They would definitely come in and oversee, but were we like at home with him, in the middle of the night changing diapers, suctioning," Rivera said.

River has made great progress during his stay at the infant and toddler unit.

He started fully dependent on his ventilator, but is now able to breathe independently and without ventilator support.

He is described as a miracle baby and a rock star who has overcome adversity that his mothers say only paves the way for his future greatness.

"Everyone kind of counted him out and we had to push forward and just say, you know not him, not our son," Rivera said.

This year, Blythedale opened a new $1.3 million state-of-the-art lab and parent training center to help prepare families to bring their medically complex children home.

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