“Is my child dying?” Alabama miracle baby defies odds

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CITRONELLE, Ala. (WKRG)– Doctors and nurses at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital perform miracles every day, and a family in Citronelle considers their baby boy one of them.

Brett Samuel Rivers Jr., “BJ,” turned one a few months ago, but he spent a big chunk of his first year of life in the hospital. In fact, 161 days in the NICU.

BJ was born at twenty-four weeks, much earlier than anyone planned.  His mother suffered from preeclampsia and went into labor out of the blue. Doctors weren’t sure he would make it, because he was just 17.5 ounces. His skin was translucent, and he could barely be held.

“It was hard,  just stressful not knowing when was going to be his last day,” his father Brett Rivers said.

“You are sitting there in amazement because, ‘that’s my baby’ but you are also like, ‘how are we going to get through this,'” his mother Salathia Rivers said.

Little BJ went through several surgeries, including a major heart surgery. He nearly didn’t pull through.

“He went downhill fast. I asked the doctor ‘is my child dying?’ The doctor told us if we believe in prayer, we need to start praying,” Salathia said

The prayers worked. He spent nearly five and a half months in the hospital. The Rivers family credits the NICU staff who they now consider family. Holley Marasca was one of his nurses.

“To see how big and strong he has become and how he is hitting his milestones. It is so rewarding, and you feel blessed that you get to witness it,”  Marasca said.

BJ is mowing through those milestones. He is pure joy for his mom and dad.

“For him to go to 1 pound 1.5 ounces to 16 pounds, to watch him develop, its been amazing” Brett said.

“When you see where he started and where he is now…you will see that miracles really do happen every day, and he is one of them,” Salathia added.

BJ may have started out small, but he has shown that he is a fighter in a big way. Everything about him is reason to celebrate!

By the way, BJ was not the smallest baby at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital. The smallest baby born at USA was Oliviyanna Harbin Page of Eight Mile, back in 2009. She was a triplet, and weighed only 9.1 ounces! She is one of the smallest to ever survive in the world!



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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.

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