On November 1, a family in Georgia celebrated their son’s final medical treatment from complications following his preterm birth. Then the following day, they celebrated his third birthday.
According to Good Morning America, when Charlie Smith graduated from his continued care, first responders and medical staff were there, holding a driveby parade and ceremony for him, which was captured on video. “He wore his cap and gown and [his nurse] Geunevah handed him a certificate,” said his mother Alena Smith.
Charlie was born at just 25 weeks gestation, weighing one pound, and doctors gave him a 50/50 chance of surviving. Smith had preeclampsia but doctors were not sure why Charlie, or her first son Wendell III with husband Wendell, were both born prematurely. Wendell III was born at 31 weeks and weighed three pounds. Charlie, however, born six weekers earlier than his brother, had more obstacles to overcome, and spent 328 days in the hospital.
“It was scary,” said Smith. “Especially since he was much smaller than his brother.”
Charlie had a tracheoscopy, which was later removed in 2019. Once he was home from the hospital, he received at-home care including physical, occupational, and speech therapies. Now that he is no longer considered “medically fragile,” there’s a lot to be thankful for.
At age three, Charlie lies to play baseball and wrestle with his brother. His mother said he is a “fighter” and he loves to try and keep up with his big brother.
Though his graduation was a special moment, it signifies a big change in the lives of those who love Charlie. “It was a bittersweet moment… I have to say goodbye to him, but it was also a good reason to say goodbye,” said his nurse Geunevah.
After her experience giving birth to two premature babies, Smith began her own organization called Trust Your Strength. Through this organization, she shares her own personal stories in order to encourage other families of premature babies and sends self-care packages to NICU moms who face weeks and even months in the hospital with their babies.
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