Devastated New Mom Told to Keep Her Hands Off and Say Goodbye to Her Dying Baby Boy
Joel and Ginger Millermon were looking forward to the birth of their second child. Then Ginger went for a sonogram and got some unexpected news.
“I called Joel and explained it to him,” Ginger tells The 700 Club. “I was overwhelmed, crying, and I said, ‘Honey, we’re having twin boys.’ He said, ‘Yes!’ He was really excited. So that was the beginning of our adventure.”
Ginger went into labor early, and Brennan and Jarrott were born two months prematurely. Their lungs were underdeveloped, so they were placed on ventilators. But the ventilator that was keeping Jarrott alive was also damaging his lungs.
Dr. Ann Olewnik says, “If we were going to offer him any chance of survival and a quality of life with good functioning lungs when he was older, we felt we needed to transfer him to the children’s hospital in Denver where there were more sophisticated therapies available.”
“The nurse said, ‘You can’t touch him.’ His heart rate was out of control. He was over-stimulated, and the nurse said, ‘Just tell him goodbye.’ I stood over his bed just weeping and thinking, ‘I won’t see him again. This is it,'” Ginger recalls.
Joel flew with Jarrott to the children’s hospital in Denver. He says, “It became very evident that his lungs weren’t responding well at all to the treatment, and he needed constant pressure to keep his airways open.”
“Eventually, he became critically ill to the point where there was a question about whether he could survive, even with the help of the ventilator,” says Dr. Olewnik.
Ginger says, “The higher levels of oxygen that he required to keep his saturations levels up were damaging his eyes.”
By the time he was six months old, Jarrott had undergone major stomach reconstruction, had a feeding tube put in and was given a tracheotomy. As Ginger watched her baby suffer, her relationship with God suffered.
“I was looking back at my life, and I was thinking, ‘God, I’ve given You everything. I have trusted You.’ I asked Jesus into my life when I was just a little girl. I wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to do something great for God, whatever He wanted me to be. ‘This isn’t fair, and I don’t understand what You’re doing.’ I stopped reading His Word, and I stopped praying.”
Ginger didn’t tell anyone about her struggle with God. She says, “He really started to work on my heart, and He was so patient with me. Verses that I had learned since the time I was little started coming back to my heart and to my mind. The one God really used for me was Romans 8:28. Sometimes I think that’s a verse that we memorize, we know and we hear, and then we completely take it for granted, but it says, ‘We know' – we know it – 'that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” God really used that to dramatically change my heart. I said, ‘Okay God, I know You’re going to work this out for good. I don’t know how You’re going to do it, but I trust You to do it. ‘ My circumstances didn’t change. Jarrott was still very critical. He wasn’t doing well, but my heart changed.”
Doctors told Joel and Ginger that, if Jarrott’s condition didn’t improve, they may have to decide how long to keep him on life support.
Joel remembers, “We were just exhausted, overwhelmed.” Ginger adds, “I remember looking into Joel’s eyes, and his eyes were full of tears. He says, ‘Honey, he’s not going to make it.’ I started to cry and said, ‘I know.’ We had never verbalized that. It really hit us that night that sometimes God says no. Sometimes His plan isn’t what we want. We held each other, we cried and we came before the Lord for the first time as a couple and said, ‘God, this child is Yours, and whatever Your plan is for us, that’s fine.’”
The next morning when they got to the hospital, doctors told them Jarrott had contracted a potentially fatal virus. His doctors decided to try one more medication. Three days later, they called the Millermons to another conference.
“All of his physicians were there and his nurses,” Ginger says. “They all had tears in their eyes, and we knew it hadn’t worked. We knew this was it. Our head doctor spoke up and said, ‘It’s not working. He is such a fighter. We’ve done everything we can do, but it’s not working. When we wean the medications out of his body, at this point he’ll slip into a coma and pass away.’”
Joel and Ginger were given just one option. Joel recalls, “We can just take him off the ventilator right now. He’s sedated. He won’t know what happened to him. We can just let him go right now. We asked some tough questions. We just said, ‘Is he brain dead? Is he alive. I mean, is he gone?’ They said, ‘No, no, he’s not brain dead.’”
“When Joel and I looked at each other, it wasn’t even a discussion,” Ginger says. “We shook our heads, and we just said, ‘We’re going to keep praying for a miracle. We know that God can do that. You said it would take a miracle.’”
As doctors weaned Jarrott off his medication, his family continued to pray.
“I remember standing over his bed,” Joel says, “and laying our hands on his little tiny chest and just praying that God would do something amazing. In my immature way, I prayed, ‘God, this would be the perfect opportunity for You to show everybody what You can do.’”
Jarrott survived the night. Doctors were shocked when blood tests came back with near normal results.
“It was the closest to normal it had been in his entire life,” Joel says. “That’s all we needed. We looked at each other with tears and big grins, and we know that God was not finished with Jarrott. Doctors came in shaking their heads in amazement saying, ‘Now, don’t get your hopes up, because he’s going to still take a turn for the worst. We don’t expect this to last long.’”
Dr. David Pacini confirms, “These are the best, most experienced physicians in the area at children’s hospital in Denver who said, ‘He’s not going to survive.’ Extended family gathered to watch him die. They started withdrawing support, and then boom! Within a day, he’s a new kid. That’s a miracle.”
Doctors didn’t expect him ever to speak or walk, but Jarrott continued to make steady progress. When he was four, doctors removed his breathing tube.
Ginger says, “The first time I heard him say ‘momma’ and giggle was just the neatest thing I had ever heard.”
Still, doctors didn’t think Jarrott would ever have a completely normal life. Dr. Pacini says, “When preemies get really sick, they often bleed into their heads. Jarrott did that too. If you look at his scans, they look like swiss cheese. You would have expected a very severely, neurologically handicapped child. But when you watched Jarrott over time, he just improved in every way. He kept improving.”
Jarrott and Brennan will soon be teenagers. Jarrott is active in sports and just made the honor roll at school.
Dr. Olewnik remarks, “He has certainly fooled many physicians who saw x-rays, blood tests and medical records and made predictions of how he would do. He’s outdone them. He’s outdone them all. So yeah, he’s a miracle.”
“I think it’s neat sometimes how God takes us to the end of who we are and what we can do,” Ginger says. “He took us to the end of what we could do as parents and what the doctors could do as his caretakers. Then He said, ‘Let me just show you what I can do.’ ‘Cause there’s nothing too big for God.”