LUBBOCK, Texas — On Wednesday, a retired respiratory therapist and former NICU patient, reunited after nearly 30 years.
Twenty-eight years ago, Meagan Barnett was born prematurely.
“I was born at 24 weeks, weighing one pound and nine ounces, and thirteen and a quarter inches long,” Barnett said. “Back in that day, the preemie survival rate was very slim.”
Mark Stevens, retired respiratory therapist, said at the time, no one expected Meagan to survive.
“Meagan was one of the smallest children I had ever taken care of,” Stevens said.
Stevens was tasked with intubating Barnett. He also helped feed her, and took care of her as best as he could.
“The tube that had to go down through her throat to her lungs to keep her breathing–they only came in certain sizes,” Stevens said.
He said he didn’t know if her body would be able to handle the equipment.
“Meagan was one of the smallest children I had ever taken care of,” Stevens said. “She was so little, I was lucky to get it in on the first try.”
Barnett did survive. Her mother telling her, Stevens is the reason Barnett survived.
“I wanna thank him. He brought purpose and meaning to my life,” Barnett said.
Barnett decided she would also become a respiratory therapist. She is now helping babies in the NICU, just as she had been. Barnett’s mother remained Facebook friends with Stevens.
“He had asked about me and we finally caught up through mutual friends, some of the nurses I work with, and we just started Facebook messaging,” Barnett said.
So they decided to meet, and decided Christmas would be the day.
“I’m so happy to see her, happy, working as an adult,” Stevens said.
The pair welcoming each other with an embrace, and making up for lost time.
“This is a wonderful Christmas gift,” Barnett said.