Little Troy Fuentes came into this world fighting for his life, born at only 24 weeks gestation at Community Regional Medical Center, he was rushed to the neonatal intensive care unit where he spent his next five months. Later transferred to pediatric intensive care, he spent a total of 14 months with the experts who saved his life. And now, he’s finally home.
In January 2019, Cristal Fuentes, who was pregnant with Troy, started having a pregnancy complication called preeclampsia – characterized by high blood pressure and other organ complications.
“It was a Wednesday night and then Thursday they were running tests all day, still unsure of his future, my future. I started getting fluid in my lungs. I was severely swollen, so in order to save my life, he had to be delivered and that was on January 4th, which was a Friday. He had to be born at 24 weeks,” shared Cristal.
Thanks to the NICU team at Community Regional, Baby Troy had a successful delivery, even though he wasn’t fully developed. He weighed one pound, one ounce, and was just 13 inches long.
Dr. Kultar Singh is a neonatologist at Community Regional. He said, “His lungs were not fully developed so he needed a lot of support for a long period of time. He stayed with us for about five months and then he was outgrowing what we could provide him there. So, the better environment was for him to be moved over to PICU. So, that moving from NICU to PICU was a very smooth transition. We were in touch with PICU team for several weeks before he was moved.”
And it was in the pediatric intensive care unit, or PICU, where Troy spent the rest of his nearly 14-month stay at Community Regional.
Dr. Jambunathan Krishnan is a pediatric intensivist at Community Regional. He stated, “Just because of the extreme preemie nature of his delivery out there, he has had multiple problems. Almost, you can name every single organ system of his, he’s had a problem with that. If someone were to give an assessment of his chances of making it home and even if you just go through his list of problems, there are not many people who would be giving a high chance of him going home. His chances of him going home were very small.”
Everyday was a struggle for Baby Troy and his family.
“Based on my 20 years of, nearly 20 years of critical care experience, this is the toughest ventilator courses that I’ve ever had to deal with. He had a very, very bumpy course and there were many circumstances during this entire, more than a year long stay in the hospital that, therapists, everybody felt, oh, he’s not going to make it, he’s not going to survive this illness, he’s not going to survive this period,” commented Dr. Krishnan.
Chris Prince is a respiratory therapist at Community Regional. He said, “He was really sick when he came to us. He was one of the sickest patients that we’ve had in the unit in a really long time.”
“And they basically asked us a question on whether we wanted them to withdraw care. And we said, no, there has to be another option, there has to be something else we can do, we’re not done fighting, we’re not done,” said Cristal.
It was an uphill battle, but Baby Troy was not done fighting either. And he made sure to let everyone know in his own way.
“So, Troy is the boss, yeah, he’s the shot caller. We do what Troy wants. I would say he’s like a little miracle baby because we didn’t think we’d get to where we’re at today,” said Laura Enriquez, a registered nurse in the pediatric ICU.
Chris added, “Ttroy is definitely strong, he’s been through a lot. I mean, being born around 23, 24 weeks gestation, I mean that in itself to get where he is now is amazing. He’s had a lot of ups and downs and he’s made it through.”
“And he has his own personality. He is full of just fearlessness, he’s such a fighter and we are just so excited to see what the future holds for him,” said Cristal.
It was a slow progression as the months went by, but in February 2020, relief was around the corner, when Baby Troy and family got news that they could finally go home.
Chris said, “Throughout the months that he’s been here, we’ve been able to work together as a team with respiratory nursing and to get him off the really high support and get him onto home settings and he’s gonna get to go home. His family is great, they’ve become part of the family up at the PICU here because they’re with him so much.”
Mom, dad, and Baby Troy perservered.
Dr. Singh said, “Many babies unfortunately can’t make it, but Troy has made it and one of the big things which works in his favor is his strong genes and strong family.”
“I have to say, this is something which I have to say, absolutely, the dedication, the involvement first of all, of his family, his mom Cristal and dad, Mark, they did an amazing job. They were steadfast in their support for him, they were absolute and stood by and they wanted everything done that was medically possible for him and they were committed in that. They spent their days going to work and they came back here, they spent their evenings here, mom or dad used to stay overnight,” added Dr. Krishnan.
Laura said, “Cristal and Mark, you know, I simply admire them. You know, they’re here day in and day out, I could see the struggle that comes with it. But, they’ve accepted it and they’ve adapted, they’ve thrived with their situation. They have extreme resilience, extreme support, extreme love and that’s just beautiful to see.”
And although Baby Troy and family are finally able to leave, they’re leaving a lasting impression.
Laura said, “He will forever be engraved in my heart. He has helped me grow as a nurse, yeah, so that is something I’m eternally grateful for. I’ve told him how much he’s impacted my life and he really is a miracle, because we really didn’t think, a lot of the prognosis was negative and so seeing him go home is amazing, it’s truly amazing, so I’m so happy for them because they deserve it.”
Dr. Krishnan said, “In fact, I’m more thankful to the parents, they stood behind all the physicians and literally they were the ones supporting the physicians in some way, if I have to say that, do whatever you can and we will take the results. We’ll except whatever his results are and they did an excellent job of that and I’m actually equally thankful.”
“And knowing that they have such an attachment to him, as a mother, that brings so much warmth to my heart knowing that he’s not just a patient to them, he’s their baby, he’s all of our baby and for us that we couldn’t be here 24/7 that was so assuring that we’re leaving him in good hands. So, we’re just so thankful for the staff here,” stated Cristal.
Troy will continue to be on a regimented schedule and will hopefully only be back to the hospital for occasional check-ups. And although it’s still a bumpy road ahead, the Fuentes family says they’re excited to finally enjoy being together as a family.
“We are so excited. We are so excited to do nothing at home. To throw on a movie and sit on our couch with our daughter and finally be a family of four in our home. That’s what we’re looking forward to the most, just being home,” ended Cristal.