Dispatcher Kaitlin Dugas holds B.J. while Paramedics Kimberly Connor (left), Thelma Stelly (center) and EMT Kevin Duhon are reunited with the baby six months after they all participated in keeping the baby alive after he was born en route to the hospital.
Paramedics reunite with tiny patient
On Sunday, July 23, 2017, Paramedic Thelma Stelly, Dispatcher Kaitlin Dugas, Paramedic Kimberly Connor, and EMT Kevin Duhon were able to reunite with a very small patient they had met six months prior.
Baby Brantlyn James Touchet (B.J.) was born at 23 weeks, weighing only one pound, 10 ounces, and considered a micro-preemie.
The story begins when Sabrina Kestler, a Kaplan resident, was not quite six months pregnant. When she returned home from working the midnight shift, she began experiencing pain. She went to bed hoping the pain would stop.
“I knew she was having a difficult pregnancy,” said Amanda Kestler, grandmother. “And I knew she had experienced pain before. But that night it didn’t stop, it just got worse.”
By one a.m. on January 7, one of the coldest nights with rain and icy conditions outside, she decided that she needed to call an ambulance.
When paramedics arrived, the initial plan was to take her to Abbeville. But after assessing the problems she was having, the decision was made to take her to Women’s and Children’s in Lafayette.
Being just outside of the Kaplan city limits, near the intersection of Highway 699 and 700, little B.J. decided he was going to make his appearance.
Born weighing only one pound, ten ounces, the paramedics needed special equipment to keep the baby alive. A call was made and another ambulance met them en route to Lafayette with the necessary life support equipment.
The tiny preemie was immediately connected to a heart monitor and CPR was administered all the way to the hospital.
“Because it was so cold outside,” said Amanda, “the tiny baby’s temperature dropped drastically when they opened the back door at the hospital.”
According to Kestler, when the emergency room doctor saw B.J., he was going to pronounce him dead, but the paramedics were able to show the baby still had a very faint heartbeat on the monitor.
B.J. spent six months in ICU before being discharged. He had heart surgery and remains on oxygen support, but the family is hopeful he will be able to remove the oxygen tubes soon.
On August 7, 2017, B.J. turned seven months old, and as of today, weighs almost 17 pounds.
“Mighty B.J. will always know how important Kim, Tiger, Kaitlin and Thelma are in his life,” said Kestler. “They may have not thought their day was going to end that way, but God put them at the right time and the right place. “These amazing “heroes” are the reason our miracles started that day. These Acadian Ambulance medics, who started their shift on the coldest, iciest day of the year, never imagined they would be the heroes for a baby who came too soon.
“They gave us just a small part of their lives, even when doctors were ready to pronounce him dead. These EMTs and paramedics didn’t give up the fight to save his life, from the birth in the back of their ambulance or while at the hospital when he needed them most.
“Thank you to our saving graces at Acadian Ambulance.”
Thelma Stelly, a 25 year veteran paramedic with Acadian Ambulance was thrilled to see his progress.
“He really is a miracle baby,”
said Stelly. “A baby that tiny being born in a hospital setting has a hard time surviving, and being born in an ambulance and surviving makes it even more of a miracle.
“It was unbelievable to see him weighing 17 pounds as opposed to fitting in the palm of my hand when he was born.
“He really is a fighter!”