Healthy Expectations: How Richmond’s ‘Miracle Baby’ is doing thirty years later

HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — Debbie Marks and her son Josh Marks get a glimpse at the new neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital. Thirty year ago a facility like it did not exist at the hospital.

“That would just make all the difference in the world,” Debbie comments during the tour, pointing out amenities for families of the tiny infants.

Still, she would not change a thing about her experience here decades ago.

“He’s alive by the grace of God,” she says. “Period.”

Debbie had a condition called placenta previa, which has the potential to cause severe bleeding and dangerous complications for both the mother and unborn child. It resulted in her staying at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital for three months on bed rest until her baby could reach 28 weeks gestation.

Josh was finally born on April 12, 1987, which was three months early.

“They told us that he wouldn’t survive the night,” Debbie remembers. “They listed all the things that could happen, and he had every single one.”

In those early days, doctors expected Josh would be blind. He also battled a Stage 4 brain bleed and failing kidneys.

“As soon as we walked up to the incubator, he coded,” Debbie recalls one especially heartbreaking day. “And then I heard 6:09, time of death.”

However, Josh cheated death that day and would continue to do so over and over again.

“One day up, one day down,” Debbie says about his condition. “Very, very sick. Joshua was fighting so hard, and it seemed so unfair.”

Henrico Doctors’ Hospital says Josh was its first preemie. He was able to go home after three months of around-the-clock care.

“It kind of leaves you speechless, you know, just to be able to be here and not have any issues,” Josh says.

He is 30-years-old now and married with a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitative Counseling. He provides mental health services to children and teens.

“Being a miracle baby and having those experiences but then being able to turn it around and give back, you know, really kind of puts the icing on the cake,” Josh says about his life-long desire to help others.

He appreciates how doctors and nurses fought along with him during his treatment.

“This hospital was our home, and I don’t know what we would have done without them,” explains Debbie. “They were our family.”

The entire Marks family also knows faith helped Josh pull through.

“If I was to go right now, I’ve seen miracles,” Debbie says.

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