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Parents refuse to “allow” their child to die, 20 months later she is thriving and “nonstop on the go”

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NRL News Today often carries stories of parents who refused to be bullied into aborting a child with a grim prenatal diagnosis. They simply refuse and whether the child lives and thrives or dies peacefully after birth, the child has been wrapped in love, not abandoned.

Less often (because we hear about it so seldom) are the stories of parents who will not be cajoled into “allowing” their child to die.

Such is the case with Cortney and Peyton Noland and their baby (now a 20-month-old toddler) Willow as profiled in a wonderful story that appeared in the Columbus Dispatch.

Reporter JoAnne Viviano begins by telling us that a doctor flatly told the couple there was no hope for Willow, born at 22 weeks gestation and weighing just 1 pound, 5 ounces. But she survived, undergoing four surgeries over 236 days to address sepis, an intestinal disease and a lung disorder.

But “along the way,” as Viviano put it, “doctors continued to ask the Nolands if they wanted to withdraw care. If they wanted to simply let Willow die. They would not. And Willow survived. And thrived.”

But the miracle began at her birth–that she was treated at all–and then continued in the months of excruciatingly delicate care yet to come. Viviano explains

Dr. Edward Shepherd, chief neonatologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital tells Willow’s story at conferences across the country.

As a rule, physicians don’t try to save babies born as early as Willow. It’s rare that they live for long, and if they do, there are significant problems, including deafness, blindness, cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

Parents often have to fight for resuscitation.

“When I was a resident back in 1999, people said nobody under 24 weeks can ever survive, and now 23-weekers are surviving routinely,” Shepherd said. “Now, people are saying under 23 weeks really can’t survive, and there’s Willow, who was 22 weeks.”

Back to Mount Carmel East, where when she was admitted Mrs. Noland was told she and her unborn baby had serious infections (the placenta had separated from the uterine wall). “She overheard the medical team say they thought both were going to die,” Viviano writes.

While the couple was grieving , “Mrs. Noland’s obstetrician arrived and requested a team to be on hand to resuscitate the baby and transport her to Nationwide” where Willow was delivered by C-Section.  The medical team had to fit “the smallest tube in the world” into Willow’s airway and attach it to a breathing machine, Mrs. Noland said.

What follows is an inspirational story of persistence and patience and calm which began with a baby too fragile to be touched with skin “like jelly,” her head bruised black and blue. “She resembled a baby bird,” Mrs. Noland recalls.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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