Winter storm brings healthcare workers together to care for preemie baby


The life of a premature, 1-pound baby born during the historic winter storm was saved thanks to Dr. John Loyd, division chief of neonatology and two nurses at Dell Children’s, who packed a truck with neo-natal intensive care unit equipment and drove through snow to help.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, February 17, Kimberly Arias began feeling severe cramps. At 2:30 a.m., pregnant Kimberly was fighting to fall back asleep. She kept thinking – she couldn’t be in labor, she was only 24 weeks pregnant, and if something was wrong, how would she get to the hospital in the middle of a winter storm.

When her cramps didn’t subside, Kimberly called her sister, a nurse at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Marble Falls.

Her sister listened to her symptoms; Kimberly was likely dehydrated. However, if the cramps continued or got closer together, Kimberly’s sister urged her to go to the emergency room. Kimberly’s cramps continued, and she eventually got them every two minutes. Although the roads were dangerous due to extreme weather conditions, Kimberly and her parents headed to the closest hospital, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Marble Falls.

Hospital nurses were concerned when they discovered Kimberly was bleeding. In an ultrasound, they discovered that the baby’s head was approaching the cervix. At just 24 weeks pregnant, Kimberly was about to give birth.

She was devastated. “It’s not time, why is this happening?” thought Kimberly.

She was transferred to a labor and delivery room where she gave birth to her first daughter, Zaylynn, weighing just 600 grams. Baylor Scott & White Pediatrician Dr. Curtis Copeland and Labor and Delivery Nurse Meredith Schubert worked to stabilize Zaylynn, but it was obvious that she needed advanced neonatal intensive care (NICU).

Typically, hospital teams from around the state can quickly transport these little ones in need to a facility with a NICU. But, due to the extreme winter weather, transport and EMS teams across Central Texas were not able to get to the baby.

Dr. John Loyd, division chief of neonatology and Pediatrix-affiliated neonatologist and at Dell Children’s, learned about the situation through a transport call center. Knowing advanced intervention was the baby’s only chance for survival, Dr. Loyd and a team of providers advocated for an excursion from Austin to Marble Falls to help.

Dr. Loyd, Kelly Klaus, registered nurse at Dell Children’s and Nicole Padden, certified registered nurse at Dell Children’s, journeyed to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Marble Falls in the extreme weather conditions and set up a makeshift neonatal intensive care unit. Together, the Dell Children’s and Baylor Scott & White teams cared for Zaylynn and Kimberley. As snow and ice continued to cover their communities, these healthcare workers slept at the hospital and worked to provide the best care for these patients in need.

“The Baylor Scott & White team did an astounding job caring for Zaylynn with the resources available to them,” said Dr. Loyd. “We are proud of the teamwork and commitment during an unprecedented challenging time to provide quality care to this family.”

Once it was safe, Star Flight took Zaylynn from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Marble Falls to Dell Children’s, home to a Level IV NICU.

Kimberly says it brought her joy to see her daughter so well taken care of by the Baylor Scott & White, Ascension Seton and Dell Children’s teams. “I appreciate how the doctor and nurses risked their safety to travel to help us,” she said.

Kimberly was discharged from Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Marble Falls on Friday, February 19, and reunited with her daughter Zaylynn at Dell Children’s on Saturday, February 20.