INDIANAPOLIS, Ind--Beckham Ralph, the premature baby whose family says was held hostage by a Cancun hospital, is now back in Indiana. However, health experts say it’ll likely be a long road before the newborn gets to come home.
Just 24 hours into the newborn’s stay in the neonatal intensive care unit at Riley Hospital for Children, family members issued new photos of Beckham’s parents Michaela Smith and Larry Ralph Jr. holding their son.
Riley Hospital for Children issued this statement:
"Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health can confirm that Beckham Smith is under the care of the Riley at IU Health team. At this time, the priority for the family is for the focus to remain on Beckham's care and wellbeing. The family asks for their privacy at this time, and no additional condition updates will be shared until future notice."
“The first thing to take care of with babies is making sure they’re breathing OK. That’s often their biggest difficulty at that gestational age, or really any time in prematurity. We make sure that breathing is stable, we make sure that the heart rate is good, and we make sure their sugar is stable because mom was providing all that and now that mom is not attached to that baby,” said Melissa Leedy, Neonatologist for St. Vincent’s Women’s Hospital.
According to Leedy, most babies born at 28 weeks cannot properly feed yet, so feeding tubes and IVs would likely have to be in place to supply nutrients. Because the immune systems of premature babies are so delicate, doctors are also likely keeping a close eye on Beckham’s environment.
“They’re just constantly making sure all their parameters are normal,” said Leedy.
The amount of time baby Beckham will have to spend in the NICU is unknown. However it could be weeks before the newborn is strong enough to go home.
Leedy says the length of stay in a NICU doesn’t always come down to how early the baby was born, rather what health milestones the baby has to accomplish before he can go home.
In a joint statement released by the Smith and Ralph family, Beckham’s parents thanked supporters:
"The parents and family of baby Beckham would like to extend their extreme gratitude and sincere appreciation for the outpouring of love and support they have received from not only local Hoosiers, but from across the United States. Baby Beckham has been reunited with both parents and is receiving the medical attention that he needs. While this experience has been very scary and traumatic, both parents are now focusing on the most important thing, Beckham's continued recovery. Again, we want to thank everyone for the continued love and support that has been and is continuing to be shown to this precious little fighter. "