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Baby ER: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles

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With "Baby ER," Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes tells the unforgettable story of wonder and hope that lies at medicine's cutting edge, where extraordinary healers and extraordinary patients come together to make miracles -- in a place where lives are held, literally, in the palms of doctors' hands. For the parents of sick and premature babies, some weighing less than a With "Baby ER," Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes tells the unforgettable story of wonder and hope that lies at medicine's cutting edge, where extraordinary healers and extraordinary patients come together to make miracles -- in a place where lives are held, literally, in the palms of doctors' hands. For the parents of sick and premature babies, some weighing less than a pound and no bigger than a can of cola, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit -- the "Baby ER" -- is their one bastion of hope during the most terrifying moments of their lives, when their children's very survival hangs in the balance. Given unprecedented access to this normally private world, Humes witnesses the midnight deliveries, the harrowing Code Blues, the heart-wrenching setbacks; be there when a young mother first holds her son as he finally emerges from the incubator, and for the triumphant day of discharge, when families are at last made whole. Set in Southern California's Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, home to one of the largest and most respected neonatal units in the nation, "Baby ER" also describes the inspiring and dramatic efforts of the uniquely gifted physicians, nurses and other healers who work medicine's tiniest miracles, bringing life to a place where, for all but a minute fraction of human history, death has reigned supreme. The neonatal unit has been transformed in recent years by revolutionary advances that have enabled impossibly small preemies not only to survive but to thrive. Children born so early they would have been considered miscarriages fifteen years ago are now going home in their car seats thanks to state-of-the-art care; parents who would have faced unspeakable lossnow have diapers to change. But there is also a cost to the wonders of technology and skill that preserve such fragile lives. Though joy is most often the result of this remarkable brand of medicine called neonatology, a life saved does not always lead to a life worth living. The accompanying burdens -- sometimes grievous ones -- raise difficult moral, ethical and financial questions. In a narrative both lyrical and intense, Humes does not skirt these tough questions, nor do the talented physicians at the center of "Baby ER," who must ask themselves not only how far they can go to save a child, but how far they should go. In an era when aggressive new fertility treatments have created an epidemic of high-risk multiple births, and one in ten babies in the U.S. is born premature, "Baby ER" provides a timely and compelling portrait of medicine's brave new world.


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With "Baby ER," Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes tells the unforgettable story of wonder and hope that lies at medicine's cutting edge, where extraordinary healers and extraordinary patients come together to make miracles -- in a place where lives are held, literally, in the palms of doctors' hands. For the parents of sick and premature babies, some weighing less than a With "Baby ER," Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Humes tells the unforgettable story of wonder and hope that lies at medicine's cutting edge, where extraordinary healers and extraordinary patients come together to make miracles -- in a place where lives are held, literally, in the palms of doctors' hands. For the parents of sick and premature babies, some weighing less than a pound and no bigger than a can of cola, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit -- the "Baby ER" -- is their one bastion of hope during the most terrifying moments of their lives, when their children's very survival hangs in the balance. Given unprecedented access to this normally private world, Humes witnesses the midnight deliveries, the harrowing Code Blues, the heart-wrenching setbacks; be there when a young mother first holds her son as he finally emerges from the incubator, and for the triumphant day of discharge, when families are at last made whole. Set in Southern California's Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, home to one of the largest and most respected neonatal units in the nation, "Baby ER" also describes the inspiring and dramatic efforts of the uniquely gifted physicians, nurses and other healers who work medicine's tiniest miracles, bringing life to a place where, for all but a minute fraction of human history, death has reigned supreme. The neonatal unit has been transformed in recent years by revolutionary advances that have enabled impossibly small preemies not only to survive but to thrive. Children born so early they would have been considered miscarriages fifteen years ago are now going home in their car seats thanks to state-of-the-art care; parents who would have faced unspeakable lossnow have diapers to change. But there is also a cost to the wonders of technology and skill that preserve such fragile lives. Though joy is most often the result of this remarkable brand of medicine called neonatology, a life saved does not always lead to a life worth living. The accompanying burdens -- sometimes grievous ones -- raise difficult moral, ethical and financial questions. In a narrative both lyrical and intense, Humes does not skirt these tough questions, nor do the talented physicians at the center of "Baby ER," who must ask themselves not only how far they can go to save a child, but how far they should go. In an era when aggressive new fertility treatments have created an epidemic of high-risk multiple births, and one in ten babies in the U.S. is born premature, "Baby ER" provides a timely and compelling portrait of medicine's brave new world.

30 review for Baby ER: The Heroic Doctors and Nurses Who Perform Medicine's Tiniest Miracles

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra X is enjoying a road trip across the NE USA

    Of all the different branches of medicine working in the NICU must be both the most heart-breaking and most rewarding. I think it takes a special kind of courage to want to work with tiny babies and their very anxious parents knowing quite often that no matter what you do, the outcome is unlikely to be good, but you try anyway. Most babies will not survive, those that do most will have problems physical or mental, some of these problems will be extreme. Some, such as intellectual challenges might Of all the different branches of medicine working in the NICU must be both the most heart-breaking and most rewarding. I think it takes a special kind of courage to want to work with tiny babies and their very anxious parents knowing quite often that no matter what you do, the outcome is unlikely to be good, but you try anyway. Most babies will not survive, those that do most will have problems physical or mental, some of these problems will be extreme. Some, such as intellectual challenges might not show themselves for years. I can understand the parents wanting their baby saved at any cost, and thinking that their baby will be the exception, they will 'get better'. But the doctors and nurses know otherwise. I wonder if they ever think why do they put so much effort into trying to save a baby's life when their will be very little quality to it, and maybe very little time too?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    This book really grabs you and takes you into the tiny, fragile lives of about six or eight babies, born too early to be healthy and "normal". After having Enoch in the NICU for four months, I found this book profoundly moving. I am SO grateful to the doctors and nurses who helped Enoch to "make it". This is a great read! This book really grabs you and takes you into the tiny, fragile lives of about six or eight babies, born too early to be healthy and "normal". After having Enoch in the NICU for four months, I found this book profoundly moving. I am SO grateful to the doctors and nurses who helped Enoch to "make it". This is a great read!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Pletcher

    This is a look inside the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and how the tiniest babies are cared for on a daily basis. The book follows 11 different babies and their families with their struggle to get their little ones home. The stories vary from parents who had a full term infant and something happened during the birth that landed them in the NICU, to babies who are born drug addicted because their mom's used while they were pregnant. The babies have good days, and bad, and it is a constant This is a look inside the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) and how the tiniest babies are cared for on a daily basis. The book follows 11 different babies and their families with their struggle to get their little ones home. The stories vary from parents who had a full term infant and something happened during the birth that landed them in the NICU, to babies who are born drug addicted because their mom's used while they were pregnant. The babies have good days, and bad, and it is a constant roller coaster to get them healthy and home. This was a great book. I am a pediatric nurse, and there have been many occasions that my patients were preemies to start out their life. Some preemies go on to never have another problem, and some have life long challenges. Reading this book and hearing the parent's views of what it is like to have a baby that small, and the nurses/doctor's views on how it is to keep them alive was intense. Some babies were less than a pound at birth, and yet went home. Others were close to full term infants, but had too many health problems, and died. Check out this book. IT is a little technical, but not overly so. I found that it spoke more of the families and the care of the babies than medical terms 90% of the time. Even though it was written 15 years ago - and medical miracles have come just that much further in saving these little babies - it still gives you an idea of just how far we have come in keeping them alive.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Great book about NICU in southern California. Gives some fascinating history about how premature baby care developed in France near the turn of the 20th century when the government was concerned about the high infant mortality rate and the declining birthrate. An entire generation was decimated by the Franco-Prussian war and a new supply of canon fodder would be needed. In 1896 the first incubator was put on display with live babies at the World Exposition in Berlin. It was a big hit and became a Great book about NICU in southern California. Gives some fascinating history about how premature baby care developed in France near the turn of the 20th century when the government was concerned about the high infant mortality rate and the declining birthrate. An entire generation was decimated by the Franco-Prussian war and a new supply of canon fodder would be needed. In 1896 the first incubator was put on display with live babies at the World Exposition in Berlin. It was a big hit and became a permanent display at places like Coney Island for the next four decades. There are many shocking stories of modern times such as the way an addict can destroy her baby in utero and is not held accountable by law, and the rapid rise in multiple births due to the unscrupulous practice of implanting so many eggs at once. CDC = complete blood count, # white & red cells, platelets etc. I highly recommend this book to anyone. Except anyone who's pregnant!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Grillables

    A mix of stories is presented as the author spends some time in a NICU, but the neonatologists and nurses are all glowingly portrayed. It would have been nice to get a more balanced view of the NICU staff, but one can't really argue with the premise that they're doing amazing things with babies that only a couple of decades ago wouldn't have been considered viable. A mix of stories is presented as the author spends some time in a NICU, but the neonatologists and nurses are all glowingly portrayed. It would have been nice to get a more balanced view of the NICU staff, but one can't really argue with the premise that they're doing amazing things with babies that only a couple of decades ago wouldn't have been considered viable.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    Babies. Tiny babies. Babies small enough to fit in your hand. Babies born to cocaine-using mothers. Babies born suddenly, too soon for the mother to schedule an abortion. Babies born in multiples, all too small. Intermingled with the stories of all the tiny babies are the stories of the doctors who work on the babies and of neonatalogy itself.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane Eskridge

    This was a good book and pretty informative on the history and current workings of neonatal care. It was educational even to me a lay person.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Pretty spot on despite being dated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    I love hospital stories. I love babies! So I loved this book. 4.5 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    This book perfectly captures the NICU experience. I sobbed several times a I read this because Humes described the highs and lows so succinctly. I highly recommend this book for families that are or will be facing NICU time. I think it would be especially helpful for extended family members trying to understand what preemie parents are going through.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    . Excellent I enjoyed this book and the in-depth care that these children require. I am happy that my children were healthy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    really good about an amazing place and people. Humes has written other good books as well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pam M

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Wayson

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kayleigh

  18. 4 out of 5

    Polyanna

  19. 4 out of 5

    Merrill

  20. 4 out of 5

    Grace

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amberly

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cassia

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  25. 4 out of 5

    Leigh

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Hope

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Carlson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mindy Graham

  29. 5 out of 5

    Suhaib

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julie

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