Thea’s Story

October 2, 2017

Baby Thea made her way into the world on a Monday, 17 weeks before her due date. At the time she was born, her mother, Amal, remembers how Thea was so small and fragile that she was afraid to take the baby into her arms.

“I was so scared the morning I went into labor,” Amal says. “Two years ago, I lost a child because I went into early labor. At 23 weeks, the hospital I went to said my pregnancy was nonviable.”

The memory is painful for Amal; she feared losing Thea too.

Preemie Baby Thea Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem NICU

Baby Thea, born at 23 weeks

Amal knew that Holy Family Hospital provided the best maternity care in the region. Still, she felt trapped. Her husband, Ishmael, had recently lost his job at a hotel in Jericho due to a long, steady decline in the tourism industry. They felt they couldn’t afford the cost of care at a private hospital.

Baby Thea, however, had her own plans.

“I could feel Thea kicking me strongly,” Amal says. “It was as if she was saying ‘Come on, mom! Let’s go to Holy Family Hospital!'”

Amal followed her instincts. She told Ishmael that they needed to go to Holy Family Hospital, and fast.

Upon their arrival, Amal went immediately into emergency surgery. Baby Thea emerged a few minutes later — alive, moving, but barely breathing. Doctors rushed to connect the newborn to a ventilator and placed her in an incubator. When Amal saw Thea, she could hardly believe how tiny, yet otherwise perfect, the newborn lying before her was. Though filled with relief at the sight of their daughter alive, Amal and Ishmael still worried about the cost of her long-term care.

Preemie in Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem NICU Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Thea at four months

Amal, whose name means hope in Arabic, says “I knew somehow that everything would be okay. Everyone at Holy Family Hospital has a big heart; Thea was in good hands.”

The staff encouraged the couple to meet with Mary, one of the Hospital’s social workers, to discuss their eligibility for financial assistance. Thanks to the generosity of donors to Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation’s Neediest Baby Fund, Mary was able to secure funds for Thea’s ongoing care.

February 6, 2017

Four months later, Thea is a bouncy baby girl preparing to leave the NICU for good. Her mother and father have taken to calling her “little miracle” and her big sister, five-year-old Taleen, says she can’t wait for Thea to come home so they can draw, paint, and play school together.

You can help create a “little miracle” for a family like Thea’s. Donate to the Neediest Baby Fund to provide lifesaving care to the smallest and most vulnerable newborns in Holy Family Hospital’s NICU.

This story was featured in the Spring 2018 Issue of Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation’s Newsletter, Journey to Bethlehem. To read more stories from this issue, click here.