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A Future You Can't Control

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Technology has had a profound effect on how we get pregnant, give birth, and think about life and death. The decision to become parents was not an easy one for Kelley and Tom. Even after they sorted out their relationship issues and hopes for the future, getting pregnant wasn't easy. But, thanks to a lot of technology, they found a way to a baby. Then, about halfway through the pregnancy, the trouble began. Neonatal nurse practitioner Diane Loisel describes helping Kelley and Tom make the most important decision of their lives. And Nita Farahany helps Jad and Robert understand the significance of viability, and how technology has influenced its meaning...making a difficult idea even harder to pin down.

Read more:

Fetal development, a week by week guide from the Mayo Clinic

Comments [12]

Kate from Colorado DSN

The power of the human spirit is amazing. That this baby survived at 23 weeks, 6 days was nothing short of a miracle. When Kelly & Tom first heard her beating heart in utero, their hearts told them to fight for her. This story is a beautiful reminder of what a gift every life is.

Apr. 16 2015 01:05 PM
Johan Bengter from Sweden

In Sweden they can save premature babies as early as week 21. My twin sons was born week 21 and 5 days estimated by their weight of 498g and length. One died after 12 hours but Knut survived and is now soon 5 years old with no handicaps besides asthma like issues when he catches a serious cold. He was able to come home on the day he was supposed to be born. I give thanks to God and Sweden's health care system which is free for kids. More than half of the premature babies born in week 22 is saved at Sweden's top hospitals.

Feb. 24 2015 04:17 AM
Judy Hines from Bloomington, IL

I am a RAdioLab freak and this was one of my favorite programs. Just spectacular and now with the video showing Juniper at almost 3 makes me happy as can be.

Apr. 23 2014 06:57 PM
Pat Fogo from Sheffield Lake, Ohio

A very thought provoking subject. I am happy Juniper made it, and that they had outstanding medical care. Regardless of how she was conceived, apparently she was MEANT to be here!

Apr. 17 2014 10:03 PM
patricia e dewey from Tucson,Az

My comments are for the family of Juniper who was born a premi and had such difficulty in establishing her presence on this earth not to mention the cost to the medical/insurance/private sector community. My daughter is also named Juniper and her nick name is Junebug. Juniper is pregnant with her second child as I am writing this note. I did email her with the NPR channel RadioLab segment today as I found it extremely interesting. It is wonderful that baby Junebug survived and the family did not give up on her. I thank my higher power that this special baby did make it home to the family that truly does love her and will be there to assist her in her developement.

Apr. 14 2014 12:12 AM
laFemmeH from Oregon

I meant to add a link to the comment i made a little while. It was my first comment and suddenly it disappeared on me. Quoting from the article written by the mother who is a journalist in Tampa Bay:
"The statements that arrived almost daily from our insurance company told another part of the story. It appeared that the neonatologist cost about $1,900 a day. A month in the NICU — presumably room, board and nursing care — was billed at between $200,000 and $450,000. Then there were the costs for surgeries, lab work and specialists. All together, Juniper's care cost more than $6,000 a day. The statements would add up to $2.4 million, of which the hospital collected from the insurance company a negotiated rate of $1.2 million."
and also:
""You can't think about that right now," the financial specialist said. Babies born this young almost always exceeded $1 million in medical expenses, and if they had private insurance, they frequently hit their plans' lifetime caps. Most ended up on Medicaid. I was halfway to a panic attack when she said, "Well, this is amazing news." She swiveled toward us in her chair. "It's only going to cost you $400."

Sep. 28 2013 06:12 PM
laFemmeH from Oregon

On my station i just heard this segment. My comment is in response to David Simmons' comment with which I agree. I tried to find out what the actual cost of this "miracle" was and the mother mentioned it herself in her Tampa Bay article. The financial staff of the hospital told the parents that the cost of the entire procedure normally was over $ 1 million. The parents only had to pay $400 which was the copay on their Blue Cross policy. In other words, it is the Blue Cross policy holders who all pay for this "miracle" via higher premiums.

Sep. 28 2013 05:59 PM
Doctor Jack from Hawaii

Sorry to have to tell you this but all your problems regarding this ordeal were of your own making. You should have never resorted to the various fertility treatments you subjected yourself to. What you were doing was over riding mother nature's wisdom. Instead, if you had PROPERLY prepared your body for pregnancy, you, indeed, would have provided new life with a much improved environment wherein you would have become pregnant, carried your baby to full term and would have had no problems. But instead you allowed medical "science" to interfere, not just pre-pregnancy but all along the way. It was never revealed what caused the intestinal anomalies. What was given to the baby after she was delivered? How was it given? The only drug mentioned was antibiotics which was stupid beyond words so I'm guessing other threatening substances were also administered as well. Both parents were, and, more than likely, still are under an intransigent medical spell from which there is no escaping so I won't even get into specifics. And the bit about vaccines to avoid communicable infections, like I said, you're totally submerged in and surrounded by a medical spell from which you will never escape. I'll give you a hint, medical students aren't necessarily taught the highest and best approaches to healthcare but what will bring in the most money. That being a fact, trusting these "doctors" was a continuation of the mistakes you made pre-pregnancy, continued to make post-pregnancy and are surely still making today.

Sep. 28 2013 05:36 PM
Will from Nashville, TN

I absolutely loved this podcast until the political comments about Chick-fil-a. I am actually on the mother's side, as I believe in marriage equality (which puts me in the minority in Nashville, TN). But I didn't wanna hear about politics or even think about politics after such a powerful, beautiful story. I think it's crazy that anyone would stop attending a fast food restaurant because the CEO of the company expressed his opinion on anything. Does she do background checks on the CEOs of every restaurant/business she visits? Because they all have CEOs with opinions. Good luck shopping at McDonalds, Walmart, Target or any other large corporation and not finding dirt that offends you. I realize it's irrelevant to the rest of the podcast, and I wish her family well, but hearing anything political (especially something like the hot-button Chick-fil-a controversy) has a way of striking a political chord in people that is entirely unnecessary to this story. Why include that comment in the broadcast, Radiolab? The last thing I want is for my close-minded friends boycotting Radiolab for supporting gay rights.

May. 14 2013 06:08 PM
Raketemensch from Earth

I hate it when you guys leave obvious questions unanswered.

What happened with Cupcake?

May. 07 2013 11:04 AM
David Simmons from Portland, OR

The story of how one couple was able to leverage their affluence to gamble (hundreds of?) thousands of health care dollars in their own interest while millions of others are forced to go without basic health care. The most offensive 59 minutes I've heard on the radio: neither science nor journalism, but arrogant schmaltz. I wish their family well, but will continue to dedicate my life and work to those who cannot afford to buy miracles.

May. 04 2013 01:28 PM
Melanie from Denver

Radiolab why do you have to make me cry so hard??

May. 02 2013 02:42 PM

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