INDIANAPOLIS — Baby Kendall Jurnakins was finally able to go home Thursday after being in the NICU at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital for a total of 460 days.

Kendall’s mother, Sparkle, went into labor at 25 weeks pregnant and she didn’t know she was pregnant until she hit 23 weeks. “The doctor came in and said ‘We’re going to have to take him, he might not make it, but to save your life, we have to take him’,” explained Sparkle. Sparkle’s blood pressure was not regulating and her diabetes was being effected as well. She said that everything was “too high” and the doctors said they didn’t want to lose her so it was time to move her into an emergency C-section.

After delivery, Sparkle was not able to see her new baby Kendall for 4-5 days. “I just kept asking questions like ‘Is he still alive?’,” said Sparkle.

Kendall was born December 11, 2020 weighing only 15 ounces, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. He was immediately taken to the NICU where he would spend the next 460 days of his new life. While there, he was treated for multiple complications linked to premature birth. He celebrated his first birthday, got his first tooth, and started crawling all within those 460 days in the hospital.

Dr. Melissa Leedy, a NICU physician at Ascension St. Vincent, was one of the handful of physicians that helped lead Kendall to better health over the long time he resided in the NICU. “We really had to have hard discussions with his family throughout his stay. But the second he got his tracheostomy I saw that boy turn into a completely different person,” said Dr. Leedy.

Dr. Leedy was the physician who sat down with Sparkle and her husband, Keith, and told them that a tracheostomy was the way to go so that Kendall could breathe easier. “That boy was night and day. To look at a baby that is just living life to breathe and then to have a baby that is living life is just really, really amazing to see.”

For now, Kendall will still remain with a tracheostomy tube to help him breathe and also he will remain on a feeding tube. “I knew he was in good hands,” said Sparkle. “He just wasn’t at home.” 

The Ascension NICU staff said in a statement, “We congratulate the Jurnakins family on a miraculous recovery and celebrate Kendall’s bright future with full hearts”.