Human Interest

Florida preemie born at 29 weeks goes home after nearly a year in NICU

Doctors and nurses cheered as one-year-old Shiloh Messam left the HCA Florida University Hospital and traveled home for the first time in March 2024, after spending 360 days in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). 

Shiloh was born prematurely at just 29 weeks gestation at the Wellington Regional Medical Facility in Wellington, Florida. He weighed just over three pounds at birth and had a challenging road ahead of him. Shiloh’s journey has been one of determination and hope.

He not only had chronic lung injury, but also patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), a hole in his heart that required transport for heart surgery at another hospital. The medical team at HCA Florida University hospital provided that essential care to support Shiloh’s unique health needs.

Mitchell Stern, NICU Medical Director for HCA Florida Healthcare, said, “He needed continuation of services that they weren’t able to provide up in Wellington. So he was transferred here, where we were able to provide some additional services that he was unable to get where he was previously.”

READ: Record-setting micro-preemie born before 22 weeks is now home with family

Due to issues with extubation and breathing, he also had to undergo a tracheotomy and G-tube procedure to assist with his respiratory needs. After receiving the tracheotomy, Shiloh made remarkable progress. The trach remained in place until the staff was able to slowly wean him off the ventilator.

Shiloh celebrated his first birthday in December 2023 while still in the hospital, which was a huge milestone for such a little guy. On his birthday, Shiloh’s father Steve Messam said, “We’re excited today because he’s met this great milestone, and we’re extremely anticipating the time that we can bring him home.”

Shiloh, called a “Pint-sized Warrior,” lived up to his nickname by beating the odds and being discharged from the hospital not long after his first birthday. As he grows, his lungs are expected to mature, as a child’s lungs continue to grow until they are around 12 years of age. 

Lomieka Messam, Shiloh’s mother said, “It has been a journey being here this long, but because of the care here with the staff, the nurses and the doctors, they have given us a peace of mind.” She continued, “It has been hard, and this journey has been a test of time because this is something new to us.”

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