VALHALLA, New York (WABC) — After months of recovery and training, two NYPD officers bring their medically fragile child home for the very first time on Thursday.
Since last fall, officers Anna Rivera and Diana Vasquez have been training to care for 17-month-old River Omari Rivera.
He will finally be released from the hospital on Thursday.
River was born early at 26 weeks due to preeclampsia at 2 pounds, 2 ounces.
But being born small and premature was not the problem.
“What was unusual about River was that he had some kind of lung arrest mid-pregnancy and as a result his airways were abnormally small,” Dr. Dennis Davidson said.
She was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease usually seen in infants born prematurely who depend on intensive oxygen therapy.
River uses a ventilator to breathe and a G-tube to feed.
He was admitted to Blythedale Children’s Hospital in October 2021 for ventilator weaning and feeding therapy. Shortly after he arrived, his mothers began training to bring him home.
Officers learned how to manage his tracheostomy tube, react if he loses oxygen, and place and clean his g-tube for feedings.
“They would definitely come and supervise, but if we were like home with him, in the middle of the night, changing diapers, vacuuming,” Rivera said.
River has made great strides during her time in the Infant and Toddler Unit.
He began to rely entirely on his ventilator, but is now able to breathe independently and without respiratory support.
He is described as a miracle baby and a rock star who overcame adversity which his mothers say only paves the way for his future greatness.
“Everyone kind of counted him out and we had to go ahead and just say, you don’t know him, not our son,” Rivera said.
This year, Blythedale opened a new $1.3 million state-of-the-art laboratory and parent training center to help prepare families to bring home their medically complex children.
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