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

The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.

The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, two-thirds of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.

Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.

The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.

For more information, visit metrohealth.org.