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Prematurely-born triplets escape Hurricane Ian in dramatic helicopter rescue

Prematurely-born triplets had to be taken by helicopter to safety as Hurricane Ian swept across Florida.

Babies Luca, Dylan and Emmett were born last month, on 8 September. They were born early and in need of extra care. Their mum, Kat Blessing, had an emergency caesarean section when she went into labour at just 27 weeks gestation.

The triplets had to spend the first few weeks of their lives outside the womb in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Golsana in Fort Myers, Florida. Kat and her husband, David, spent every day at the hospital watching and worrying over their babies.

While the triplets were getting stronger all the time, things took a turn for the worse as it became clear that a severe hurricane was headed their way. David, who flies commercial jets, watched in horror as the TV in the hospital showed the storm heading towards their home.

“It tore us up to think that we couldn’t all be together”

Initially the parents were told it would be safe in the hospital, which was built to withstand hurricane winds and has its own generator. The day after the storm first hit, though, the water at the hospital went out. The hospital shut off the lift and no one could flush the toilets or wash their hands.

The nurses at the hospital told parents that all 80 patients at the hospital had to be evacuated. “We didn’t know when, how or to where”, Kat said. Because their babies were so small and vulnerable, and many of the roads were flooded, they had to be taken to safety by helicopter. At first, Kat and David weren’t sure the triplets would get flown to the same hospital. 

“It tore us up to think that we couldn’t all be together, that we might not be able to get to our boys”, she said.

There wasn’t room in the helicopter for all the babies, though, and Luca, the smallest, went on his own. The parents thought baby Dylan and baby Emmett would be coming by ambulance, which was especially concerning because the trip would have been so hazardous. They were relieved when they eventually found out that their other two babies would be airlifted to safety too.

Airlifted to safety

On 29 September, while their children were being flown to safety, Kat and David had to make a three-hour drive to All Children’s Hospital where they were supposed to be meeting their babies. They got to the hospital just after baby Luca, but had to wait an agonising six hours for Dylan and Emmett to get there by helicopter too.

“We saw them bring in one gurney with an incubator, and I cried, ‘Where’s my other baby?’” Kat said. But they were relieved when they realised that Dylan and Emmett were side-by-side in a single incubator.

While the storm has passed and the babies are safe, they still have a lot of growing to do before they can safely be sent home.

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said: “The efforts that the health services in Florida go to to save the lives of their most vulnerable citizens are impressive. It is wonderful that the culture recognises that these babies’ lives matter and we should do all we can to protect them”.

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