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Video: Mother’s touch saves baby’s life

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    >>> an incredible story of a mother who revived her newborn son after being told he would not make it. the family is here for an exclusive interview. fir first, "today" national correspondent amy robach has their story.

    >> doctors told kate and david ogg of australia that their baby boy was dead. what happened next was nothing short of a medical miracle. the birth of a baby. one of life's happiest moments. but for kate and david ogg , their elation came to a screeching halt after one of their twins, baby jamie , born premature at 27 weeks, was pronounced clinically dead . doctors told her --

    >> they said jamie didn't make it. we've lost him.

    >> the nurse handed the baby's limp body to his parents to say good-bye. instead, the mother talked to her newborn when she could have been mourning him. this footage taken by her midwife. the baby lay on her skin for two hours. she cuddled him and stroked him and said your twin sister , emily , is fine.

    >> he started gasping more normal, more regularly. i was like what's going on?

    >> she said the doctors told her not to get her hopes up. it's just a reflex. he couldn't be alive.

    >> then a short time later he opened his eyes.

    >> she held her nipple to his lips and he started sucking.

    >> they kept saying i don't believe it. i don't believe it.

    >> a medical miracle. baby jamie came back to life before their eyes .

    >> i've got a very smart, very strong wife who instinctively did what she did. if she hadn't have done that, i don't believe jamie would have been here.

    >> magic in a mother 's touch. even doctors say there's something to it.

    >> isn't it interesting that the body, the mother 's warmth, the effort she had up to that period of time was passing through to the child? that's pretty amazing.

    >> jamie and his twin sister , emily , are now 5 months old and happily living at their home in sydney, as yustralia.

    >> we were lucky.

    >> yeah.

    >> i feel so fortunate.

    >> so lucky.

    >> the luckiest people in the worl world.

    >> a mother 's touch specifically holding a premature baby to her skin is referred to in australia as kangaroo care . it has helped premature babies feed and keep themselves warm but this takes it to a whole new level. one blogger says it best. it just goes to show you how a mother 's love trumps all the known measurable science. ann?

    >> thanks a lot, amy. we're lucky to have kate and david ogg here with us, along with their twin, emily and their miracle baby , jamie . good morning to all of you.

    >> good morning.

    >> i've got to ask you, at that moment after giving birth, after being told this devastating news, what made you react as you did?

    >> i carried him inside me for only six months, not long enough, but i wanted to meet him, you know, and to hold him. and for him to know us as well, as he was on his way out of the world, we wanted for him to know who his parents were and to know that we loved him before he died.

    >> so, you were loving him?

    >> yeah, yeah.

    >> and talking to him?

    >> yep. and telling him his name and his sister and how she was doing and all the things we wanted to do with him as he grew up.

    >> didn't want to let him go.

    >> and he did.

    >> and you did. had you known about kangaroo care , this idea before?

    >> yeah. i had read about it a few years back, about a woman having a premature baby and your body kind of acting as an incubator to keep them warm. they come out of you. and the warmth, the smell of the mother , the sound of their heartbeat and so putting him back on my chest was as close as he could have been as to being inside me where he was last safe, you know.

    >> over the course of those two hours, you were hoping that he would come back to life?

    >> yeah.

    >> or had you --

    >> we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to lose him. and we were just trying to make the most of those last, precious moments .

    >> we thought it might have been only an extra one or two minutes we had with him at the time. we didn't know it could extend to over two hours, which was fortunate. it's still going on. so we feel extremely lucky.

    >> it looks like you even took off your shirt, david .

    >> i did. kate turned to me and said rip your shirt off. use your body heat . that's what we did, just to give him as much warmth as we could.

    >> you talked about in the tape hearing him start to gasp. the doctors said this is just a reaction.

    >> yes.

    >> this is not anything more than his body reacting.

    >> yes.

    >> when he opened his eyes, what was the emotion? what was the thought that you had?

    >> i think half of us was saying what if he actually makes it? if he does, this will just be a miracle and the other half is saying no, he's been declared dead. it's purely reflex.

    >> then we saw -- what a blessing, we get to see his eyes before he passes away.

    >> and he's lifting his head and grabbing my finger.

    >> yeah.

    >> it was amazing.

    >> and the doctor -- you have tears now just thinking about it.

    >> i know. yeah.

    >> because it was something that you never, at that moment, after two hours, thought would happen?

    >> yeah.

    >> and you must have had to call the doctor in at that point?

    >> well, he started making movements just five minutes after he had been handed to us, but the movements were just getting stronger and stronger and after two hours, we thought, he's getting stronger. he's not dead. eventually, we said to the doctor -- he wouldn't come back. we kept saying, he's doing things that dead babies don't do. you might want to come and see this.

    >> he was amazed he was actually alive.

    >> go and tell him that we've come to term with the baby's death, can he just explain it? that made him come back.

    >> they look beautiful, both of them. emily and jamie . thank you so much for sharing your story. i'm sure it's inspired a lot of people.

TODAY contributor
updated 9/3/2010 10:04:38 AM ET 2010-09-03T14:04:38

Modern medicine often works wonders, but an Australian mom now knows firsthand the true miracle that can come from a mother’s touch.

Kate Ogg was told her newborn son Jamie had died after efforts to resuscitate the premature infant had failed shortly after his birth. But when Kate was given the chance to say goodbye to the apparently lifeless baby, she and her husband, David, found they were instead saying hello to the newest member of their family.

Now 5 months old and healthy, baby Jamie and his twin sister, Emily, appeared on TODAY Friday with their proud parents, who told the amazing tale of what happened to them in a Sydney, Australia, hospital last March.

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Loving embrace
Kate Ogg told TODAY’s Ann Curry that she knew her babies were in danger when she gave birth just 27 weeks into her pregnancy. Daughter Emily survived the premature birth, but son Jamie languished — and after 20 minutes of trying to get him to breathe, doctors pronounced him dead.

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After Kate was told Jamie didn’t make it, nurses placed the baby across Kate’s bare chest so Kate and David could reconcile themselves to his death.

“I wanted to meet him and to hold him and for him to know us,” Kate Ogg told Curry. “If he was on his way out of the world, we wanted for him to know who his parents were and to know that we loved him before he died.”

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But a strange thing happened on their way to farewell. After five minutes, Jamie began displaying short, startled movements. As Kate and David looked on, his movements became more pronounced.

Still, the baby’s doctor told the parents any movements were purely reflex, and their son was not alive.

Proud parents David and Kate Ogg visited TODAY with their twins, Emily and Jamie. Doctors had pronounced Jamie dead when he was born.

Kate and David nonetheless reveled in their son’s movements, even though they believed he was dead. “We’d resigned ourselves to the fact we were going to lose him; we were just trying to make the most of those last precious moments,” Kate said.

David Ogg told Curry the couple had hoped “for an extra minute or two” with their son, but it eventually extended more than two hours. But no one was more surprised than David and Kate when their seemingly dead son opened his eyes.

“We thought, ‘What a blessing, we get to see his eyes before he passes away,’ ” Kate said. “But they stayed open!”

At that point, the couple began to think their baby might not be dead after all. “I think half of us said [then], ‘What if he actually makes it?’ ” David said. “If he does, this would just be a miracle. The other half was saying, ‘No, he’s been declared dead, this is purely instinct.’ ”

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‘Kangaroo care’
David and Kate were practicing what Australians call “kangaroo care.” Actually, it is widely practiced throughout the world, especially in poorer countries where incubators may not be available for premature babies. An infant is held skin-to-skin to their mother or father, generating heat for the newborn much like a baby kangaroo receives in its mother’s pouch.

Kate had heard of kangaroo care before. “[The baby] comes out of you, and all of a sudden there isn’t the warmth or smell of the mother or the sound of their heartbeat. And so putting him back on my chest was as close to him being inside me where he was safe.”

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Jamie continued to come around as he lay across Kate’s chest. He began grabbing at his mother’s finger, as well as his father’s. And when Kate put a dab of breast milk on her finger, Jamie eagerly accepted it.

Kate finally began to believe her baby was actually alive. “We thought, ‘He’s getting stronger — he’s not dead,’ ” she said. But the family wasn’t getting any encouragement from their doctor. While the Oggs urged hospital personnel to summon him, they were repeatedly told what they were seeing was still just reflex from a baby already declared dead.

Kate Ogg told Curry they had to “fib” to get the doctor to return to her bedside. “We kept saying, ‘He’s doing things dead babies don’t do, you might want to come and see this,’ ” she told Curry.

But the skeptical doctor still didn't return. “So David said, ‘Go and tell him we’ve come to terms with the baby’s death, can he just come and explain it.’ That made him come back.”

Kate Ogg told the London Daily Mail the doctor was in disbelief when he arrived back at the bedside. “He got a stethoscope, listened to Jamie’s chest and just kept shaking his head. He said, ‘I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it.’ ”

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Dr. Lisa Eiland of the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City told NBC News there may actually be a good grounding in science for what seemed like a miracle. “What’s important is the warmth that the mother provides and the stimulation that the baby may have received from hearing the mother’s heartbeat,” Eiland said. “So those are all things that may have helped the baby in terms of going down the path to living as opposed to the path of death.”

For his part, David Ogg gives all the credit to his “very strong, very smart wife” for the family’s now being able to enjoy raising Jamie right along with his sister Emily.

“She instinctively did what she did,” Ogg told The Daily Mail. “If she hadn’t have done that, then Jamie probably wouldn’t be here.”

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