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Super Cooper from Charleston: Our one pound, fifteen ounce miracle

This post was submitted by April Young, a runner in the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon, for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through

In August 2016, my husband and I took off for a family vacation on Edisto Island, South Carolina. I’d enjoyed 26 weeks of a healthy pregnancy and received the all clear for travel from my doctor. On the last day of vacation, I awoke to put on my bathing suit to enjoy the beach. As I began to get changed, I noticed I was leaking fluid. Since I was a first time mom I wasn’t sure what was going on and called my doctor’s office back home in Richmond, Virginia. The panic and urgency in the nurse’s voice on the phone to get to a hospital were enough for my husband and I to drive inland to Charleston, South Carolina. I was admitted to Saint Francis Medical Center that afternoon. The doctors at Saint Francis told us that the Medical University of South Carolina Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital had the NICU capability to take twenty three week babies so I was transferred there within a few hours.

As I got settled in at MUSC for an upcoming stay of nine weeks bedrest I felt as though I was having contractions. Sure enough, my nurse checked my monitor and I was indeed in labor. My memories of labor are non-existent as my fever soared and medications were administered. Around one a.m. on August 20th, the doctor came in and said they needed to take Cooper via emergency C-section for both my safety and his. I was wheeled into the operating room and my nurse held my hands and prayed for our son’s impending arrival as my epidural was administered. At 2:06 a.m., our one pound fifteen ounce lion came roaring into this world.

The NICU team brought Cooper to our room in the wee hours of the morning. I will never be able to forget the fragile child I witnessed in the isolet. Barely larger than my hand, with every conceivable wire and tube attached, my husband and I stuck our hands through to say our first “hello” and what I was sure would be my final goodbye. I had no idea how such a tiny being would ever have enough strength to survive his far too early arrival. The NICU doctor told me gravely, “I’m not going to sugar coat this. He is critically ill.”

August 20th marked the day of a 110 day NICU journey, as two terrified parents navigated the scary, new world of the NICU over 350 miles from our home in Richmond, Virginia. MUSC became our new home along with the Comfort Inn and eventually the James Island County Campground. We made our way to rounds every morning with the NICU team, Cooper’s doctors and nurses, who kept us informed of every step of his growth and recovery. The list of treatments and procedures that were completed on our son are too many to name: PIC lines, caffeine, antibiotics, dopamine, intubations, extubations, and more than a few resuscitations to save his life.

On October 4th we got the news that Hurricane Matthew was making landfall by week’s end and the MUSC NICU was to be evacuated. The team at MUSC asked if we’d like to be transferred to the Children’s Hospital at VCU via air ambulance so Cooper could continue to grow and we could be returned home. My husband and I didn’t hesitate. My husband flew home with Cooper and I loaded up our campsite at James Island and started the long trek home. Cooper was settled in at VCU on 10/4 and was eventually released to come home on December 7th, 2016.

The ups and downs of our journey are well documented on Facebook at Cooper’s Chronicles. We received support from so many around the country as Cooper’s story went viral. Today, we have a luminous two year old boy with NO DEFICITS whatsoever. To say that our family is forever grateful to the CMN hospitals at MUSC and VCU is a gross understatement. We owe them our son’s life. This is my third time running the Fairy Tale Challenge (2015, 2018, 2019) but my first time as a miracle maker in the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. My two race shirts both say “Thank you MUSC and VCU: Cooper Philip Young” on the back.

Raising money to help any family or child who finds themselves against insurmountable odds or in dire straits as we were is a full circle moment for me. We can never repay CMN Hospitals or our two hospitals for the gift they’ve given us in our son. Many, many thanks Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals: you were our angels.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Funds raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in conjunction with this magical event will help kids grow up happily ever after. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most.