After More Than 500 Days in NICU, Remarkable Suburban Toddler Finally Heads Home

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After spending more than 500 days in hospitals, an incredible suburban toddler is finally heading home this week.

Autumn Robinson, who is now 17 months old, was born premature at just 23 weeks when her mother suffered a uterine rupture.

Autumn weighed just one pound when she was born, but the happy-go-lucky youngster came out fighting and continued to do so.

“If she came out fighting, then we were going to fight, and she came out feisty and we nicknamed her ‘Feisty,’” Tyler Robinson, the girl’s mother, said. “From then on, she’s just been a fighter.”

The little girl smiles and laughs like any other toddler, but she remains on a portable ventilator, and will continue to use the apparatus after her release.

“She holds it, and that’s her best friend,” Robinson said. “We see her with a trach and we were like ‘oh,’ but to her it’s nothing. It’s a part of her.”

Autumn was given just a 50% chance of survival, and her road to this point was a long one. She spent nearly six months in a neonatal intensive care unit. She was then transferred to Lurie Children’s Hospital, where she continued to receive treatment for her underdeveloped lungs.

“In babies who have lung disease like Autumn does, sometimes the heart has trouble pumping blood through the lungs,” neonatologist Dr. Megan Lagoski said.

Finally, after being hospitalized for 524 days, Autumn’s care team says that she’s ready to go home, ventilator and all, but there’s hope that someday she will no longer need the device.

“Most of our patients come off the ventilator in the first 3-to-5 years of life, and then the trach comes out later than that,” Lagoski said.

Staff at the hospital described the scene as bittersweet, decorating Autumn’s room with streamers and marveling at just how far she has come.

“She’s rolling all over the place,” Lagoski said. “She smiles, she laughs.”

“She loves to cuddle, loves to smell and loves to play,” Tyler Robinson added. “She likes attention and she sure gets a lot of that here!”

Robinson says that she’s embracing the challenges that will come in the future, but after standing outside of the hospital with her daughter for the first time ever, she says that future will be bright.

“I’m a single parent, and a lot of the time I won’t have nursing because of shortage in home nursing,” she said. “I’m very scared but I’m also ready. I’ve been preparing for this since she’s been born.”

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