13:51 PM

Parents celebrate son’s birthday with the MetroHealth caregivers who saved his life

Birthdays are special. Especially when you’re turning 10.

Even more so when you weren’t supposed to live beyond 17 weeks – in your mother’s womb.

That was Matthew Janson’s prognosis due to a rare and nearly always deadly condition. Called Preterm Premature Rupture of the Membrane, or PPROM. In laymen’s terms, it’s when the water breaks way too soon.

For Denise and her husband Michael, both police officers, the news they were about to receive from their obstetrics specialist was inconceivable. He advised them to go home and prepare for the inevitable – a miscarriage within two weeks.

Losing their baby was not an option.

Denise searched the internet for hope. And she found it at MetroHealth.

Brian Mercer, MD, Director of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Obstetrics is an expert in PPROM. He knew exactly what to do to ensure Matthew would see his first birthday.

“He told me if I could make it to 23 weeks, they would admit me; and I would be okay here,” explains Denise.

Denise would be better than okay. At 23 weeks she was admitted. And for the next three months she formed bonds with the nurses who cared for her that will likely last a lifetime.

“To know her is to love her,” says Marybeth Faircloth, RN. “She is the most optimistic, kind person you’ll ever meet.”

A sorority of sorts was formed as Denise patiently waited for her baby’s arrival. Her room became a hub for nurses to pamper their sister and find inspiration in her faith and outlook.

For Marybeth, Denise Harding, RN, and Annmarie Gorman, RN, regular runs to Dunkin Donuts included a coffee for Denise to keep her fueled with a favorite brew. Sue Baker, RN, brought home-cooked meals with plenty of vegetables. “I think that’s why Matthew likes his vegetables so much today,” says Denise. “All the nurses were so kind and generous.”​

“We were literally watching her belly grow,” recalls Annmarie. “We’re growing this baby right here. She was just incredible – always positive, with a huge, huge faith.”​

The nurses took their lunch breaks with Denise where they sat together, watched TV, talked and enjoyed each other’s company. Denise and the nurses formed a sisterhood with a singular mission – the birth of her “miracle boy.”

While Denise was in good hands with the nursing staff, Dr. Mercer was using an antibiotic regimen that he developed to help her baby survive.

The regimen consists of administering ampicillin and erythromycin intravenously every 6 hours for 48 hours. This was followed by an oral dose of amoxicillin and erythromycin every 8 hours for 5 days. ​

There’s no telling how many babies have been saved by Dr. Mercer’s antibiotic regimen.

It’s become so successful and widely used for babies with troubled beginnings, that it’s featured in Wikipedia, under the name Mercer protocol.

In his 30 years as an OBGYN, Dr. Mercer has delivered so many babies that he stopped counting at 6,000.​

It’s been 10 years since he has seen Denise, her husband Michael and Matthew, and the reunion was nothing short of what you would expect. Joyous.

“It’s nice to see somebody that is growing up,” said Dr. Mercer. “We don’t ever get to see the babies that we deliver.”

The family came back to celebrate Matthew’s birthday with the Labor and Delivery staff bringing dinner and cake. Knowing the significance of the event, Matthew dressed in his finest, which included a vest, tie and dress pants. Just ten steps or so into the unit he was quickly surrounded by the team that bonded with him before he was born.​

“We turned lemons into lemonade,” Denise reminisced. “It was the best time of my life.”​

And it just so happens, Matthew shares his birthday with a very special man – Dr. Mercer. Together, the “miracle baby,” now a little man, and Dr. Mercer blew out all 10 candles of Matthew’s birthday cake.​

We’re not sure what their birthday wish was, but we​ know wishes do come true.​

Mathew is proof of that.

About the MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.