CMN miracle child reunites with doctor who cared for him for 99 days in the NICU

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
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SIOUX CITY, IA (KTIV) - Miracles happen, one baby at a time. One child was born in Sioux City, setting a record as the tiniest infant to leave the neonatal nursery at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s, 18 years ago. KTIV cameras rolled Wednesday as Jacob Bride, a senior at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School, reunited with the doctor he credits for saving his life.

Jacob Bride said, “Hi, good to see you.”

Dr. Raul Banagale said, “How are you?” Bride replied, “great!”

A moment of gratitude and emotion as Dr. Banagale said, “You’re no longer a tiny baby.”

Delivery day was August 25, 2004. 18 years ago Dr. Raul Banagale cared for Jacob Bride at UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s Birth Center. He weighed just 1 pound 12 ounces.

Bride said, “I’m just so grateful for everyone. Obviously, I wouldn’t be here today without him and I really, really do thank him.”

“You had this extraordinary instinct not just to survive, but survive extremely well,” said Dr. Banagale.

The tiny bundle of joy needed around the clock care. His parents, Tom and Anne Bride, waited and clinged to hope as days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months. He spent 99 days in the NICU.

“My parents and Tom’s parents were able to see Jacob. We had him baptized in the NICU. So, that was the first time they were actually able to see him,” said Anne Bride.

Jacob’s neonatologist Dr. Raul Banagale said the odds were beaten. “That’s true. Because at that time the survivability for a baby your size was only about 55 to 75 percent and that’s only talking about survivability,” said Dr. Banagale.

The abundant amount of support and help from UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s neonatal nursery has never been forgotten.

Jacob smiled as his nurse, Jill Schoenherr hugged him and said, “Jacob!” Nurses who cared for the delicate newborn during the first 99 days of his life were able to see the thriving teen they remember so fondly.

Jill Schoenherr said, “I totally remember the day he was born. I remember telling mom and dad they would never remember how small he was. So, we cleaned up dad’s wedding band real good and we slipped it over his ankle. It went all the way up his leg and we took a picture. I actually still have a picture at home that Anne had given me to keep.”

“To hear stories I haven’t heard before of how my condition was. Some of the stories I’ve heard today I didn’t realize that I was as bad as I was, I guess. It definitely is overwhelming, but I am extrememly grateful to everyone,” said Bride.

He overcame the odds. Jacob, is now a senior at Bishop Heelan High School. The Eagle Scout will graduate in May and is focused on his future as he will attend South Dakota State University.