Superstorm Sandy Baby Doing Well 1 Year Later


The ninth floor, where the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units were located, lost power first, prompting evacuations of children and babies when lifesaving equipment such as respirators failed, Ludomirsky said. The 15th floor, where Will and the others were staying, still had some power, but soon all 322 patients in the hospital would have to evacuate.

Medical students who lived across the street came to the hospital's aid when they heard what was happening. And, since so many hospital employees lived nearby, they, too, came to the hospital without being asked to.

Donovan and his wife, Jennie, lost power in their apartment at around 10 p.m., and were in bed an hour later when they got a text from a relative that the hospital had lost power. Wondering what that meant for Will, they tried calling the hospital, but the phone lines were down, so they tried searching its website, but it was down, too.

"I looked at my wife and said, 'OK, I'm going to go to the hospital,'" Donovan said.

Over the initial objections of his wife, Donovan left the apartment, braving 10 blocks in the wind and rain. Once he got there, a hospital security guard told him they were indeed evacuating, and he wasn't allowed inside.

He told the guard that his son was 3 weeks old and had just had heart surgery, but the guard wouldn't budge. Donovan then spent the next two hours watching the evacuation and hoping to find a way to get to his son as the flashing red lights illuminated the darkened street.

"More ambulances than you can imagine," he said. "I'm outside two hours just breathing exhaust fumes. It's amazing to watch so many people in such critical situations get wheeled out. ... Meanwhile, in my own head and heart, I'm worrying about my son."

Upstairs, Ludomirsky was helping children in the NICU and PICU down the stairs, triaging patients and building teams of nurses, doctors and therapists to help the babies down nine flights of dark, wet stairs with all their intravenous lines and equipment.

"The only time I can compare to that is a mass casualty situation," said Ludomirsky, who is from Israel and said he has been through three wars. "When you really get a lot of patients and individuals that you have to take care of them simultaneously, you have to triage. ... Thankfully, there's no bomb dropping on your head while you're doing it."

Then, Will's floor lost power, and it was time to evacuate the six children with heart defects.

At about that time, someone told Will's doctor, Dr Michael Argilla, that Donovan was waiting outside, and Arjilla came down to let Donovan inside. They ran up the 15 flights of stairs to the Congenital Cardiovascular Care Unit.

"We burst out onto the floor in pitch darkness," Donovan said. "Dr. Argilla turns to me and says, 'There were lights on the floor when I left.'"

Donovan was on his own as Argilla rushed to find his patients. A passing nurse told Donovan the kids had all just left to go to the first floor. He'd missed them.

Ludomirsky ordered that the baby who was still on a ventilator be evacuated first. But the staircase the NICU and PICU babies traveled down was now clogged with adult patients, so they had to find another way. The one they found had a vent that made it extremely windy in the corridor until they reached the 13th floor.

Still, the families remained calm.

"All these parents have babies that are really ill," Touchette said. "They're people who roll with the punches."

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