40% chance of survival: Nemours helps baby born at 24 weeks beat odds

Parents share ‘Fighting Finn’s’ survival story

When a mother battling infertility felt her water break at 24 weeks, her son was given a 40% chance of survival and beat all the odds.

ORLANDO, Fla. – When a mother battling infertility felt her water break at 24 weeks, her son was given a 40% chance of survival and beat all the odds.

Jessica and Christopher Hill spent nine years trying to get pregnant in their battle with infertility. The couple decided to try in vitro fertilization (IVF) but was unsuccessful.

“We were going to do traditional adoption, but because we had spent so much money, to date we’ve spent over $100,000 doing this,” Jessica Hill said.

Jessica Hill said she researched embryo adoption and found a family on Facebook looking for a couple trying to get pregnant.

“That night, the day that I really asked the Lord if this was what he had for us, she messaged me back and said that they were ready to donate to us,” Jessica Hill said.

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Jessica Hill was successfully pregnant with twins, thanks to the embryo adoption. Unfortunately, she learned on her birthday one of the babies’ heartbeats was gone.

“Everything from the beginning of my pregnancy was unfortunately pretty rough,” Hill said, as she was put on bed rest for a period of time.

At 24 weeks, Jessica Hill’s water broke at a doctor’s appointment. She was rushed to the hospital where the couple’s son Finn was delivered weighing just 1 lb 2oz.

Not long after, doctors recommended the Hills transfer their son to Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando to gain access to a specific ventilator for premature babies his size. When they arrived at Nemours, the new parents were told to prepare for difficult news as they prepared a steroid protocol for Finn’s lungs. The couple said they were told it was a “Hail Mary” plan to give Finn his best shot at life.

“To be told you have a 40% chance of survival, you go numb,” Jessica Hill said.

The family spent 113 days in the hospital, as both parents watched Finn fight through every milestone in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“We started a Facebook page called ‘Fighting Finn’ and we have it to this day, and he’s got 11,000 people following his life,” Christopher Hill said.

The early days were tough. The couple said they still have a hard time looking back at videos from their time in the NICU.

“I was really afraid to go over and talk to him and like kiss him on the head and do all these things because I’m like if I get really close to him and then he passes away, you know maybe it would’ve been easier if I just didn’t do all of those things, but then I’d feel guilty that I didn’t spend every absolute waking moment with this child,” Jessica Hill said.

Christopher Hill said his lowest moment in the hospital was on Father’s Day.

“I can only speak to the dads that are going through it. The dads are going through it too,” Christopher Hill said. “Just don’t give up. Do everything you can and everything in your power to keep going.”

The dad said there is a reason so many people continue to call his son “Fighting Finn.” Christopher Hill remembered the night they got a call from the NICU that Finn had extubated himself, and began breathing on his own about a month and a half after he was born. At that time, the couple estimated he was only 32-weeks’ gestation.

“He’s always done everything on his timing,” Christopher Hill said.

As new parents, and a couple dealing with infertility, the Hills said the staff at Nemours took care of them in ways they never knew they needed.

“Going through infertility, wanting to be parents so badly when you walk into a place and they don’t call you by your name they call you ‘Mom and Dad’ it just felt — I felt important. I felt seen, understood,” Jessica Hill said.