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New machine at St. Vincent helps premature baby

Posted: 10:47 PM, Jul 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-19 06:15:20-04

BILLINGS – A baby is going home 132 days after his premature birth in Billings. And it happened after doctors at St. Vincent Healthcare used a new ventilator to help with survival.

The family left the hospital on Wednesday afternoon to head home to Lame Deer on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

Winston Quill Walks Along was born on March 8, about 16 weeks before his due date of June 30.

“At the beginning, we sat down with (the doctor),” said Trayjana Whistling Elk, Winston’s mother. “She was telling us he’s going to have really bad days but he’s going to have good days too, telling us to be prepared for all of it.“

Whistling Elk gave birth to Winston at 23 weeks, 5 days.

He weighed 1 pound, 7 oz. and now weighs 8 lbs., 3 oz.

“A lot of prayers, lot of faith, a lot of time,” said Jaydell Walks Along, Winston’s father.

“I was really scared to hold him,” Whistling Elk said. “So I waited like nine days. The first time I held him was St. Patrick’s Day.”

It will be a little bit different for Trayjana and Jaydell before they leave St. Vincent.

They will have to do a little bit more learning about how to take care of Winston before they take him home.

“We have to do the oxygen,” Whistling Elk said.

“We have to learn how to take out his feeding tube,” Walks Along said.

“They’ve done a remarkable job of learning everything they need to take care of him at home,” said Dr. Leslie Ruybal, St. Vincent neonatologist.

Winston is the first premature baby at St. Vincent to use a new ventilator.

“We’re using that new NAVA ventilation, which stands for the Neurally Adjusted Ventilator Assist, “ said Tiffinie Thares, St. Vincent respiratory therapist. “It actually lets the baby decide if they want a breath when they want it, how large that breath is, how many times they want it and really allows that baby to be in control.”

And doctors say the NAVA ventilator has allowed Winston to go home.

“He responded very well to our therapies and to the treatment,” said Ruybal. “It’s always a great day and a sad day for all of us.”

“It’s really exciting to see him go home,” said Thares.

“We’re just so thankful to have Winston here today,” Walks Along said. “Finally going home.”

St. Vincent is the first in Montana to use the NAVA  on a premature baby.

Winston will have regular doctor visits as he moves away from the feeding tube and the oxygen bottle.