Baby Kaiden's Medical Expenses

Ryan and Jessie Tipton had been married for two years when, in January of 2017, they were elated to discover that their first baby was on the way. The impending birth, while a delight, was also of financial concern. Both are independent contractors in Las Vegas and work hard to pay off large college loans. But the joy over this new life far overshadowed anxiety and the following months were filled with excitement. They planned a homebirth with a long-established midwifery practice, primarily because of their personal birth philosophy, but also, like so many Americans, because of not being able to obtain health insurance due to high premiums which also gave very poor coverage. Medicaid also turned them down, as their combined incomes were just marginally above the cut off for qualification.

But the pregnancy went well and everything was in readiness when Jessie went into labor early on the morning of September 21st.  Things progressed quickly. In fact, they progressed far too quickly! When the baby’s heartbeat suddenly slowed, the midwives made the call to move the birth to a nearby hospital. Shortly afterwards, Kaiden Thomas Tipton entered the world. But elation quickly turned to terror. The baby lay motionless (cold, dark blue, not breathing) with the delivery room staff unable to revive him. He was rushed to the nursery, where it was determined that the intensity of the labor had collapsed his lungs. After being put on a ventilator, Kaiden was transported across town to Las Vegas’s only Level IV NICU.

What followed was every parent’s nightmare. Despite the excellent medical staff, Kaiden suffered multiple setbacks: seizures, high blood acidity, renal failure, low blood pressure, and respiratory difficulties. It was decided to put him into an induced coma so as to allow his traumatized body rest and healing. Day and night, Jessie and Ryan (who was also working 13 hour shifts) sat by him in the NICU, unable to hold their new son out of doctors’ concern that their body heat might trigger new seizures. For most of a week, Kaiden lay swollen, still, cold, pale, hovering on the border of life and death. There are no words to convey the ache of hearts that surrounded him as family gathered from across the country, not knowing if we were coming to say welcome or farewell. The nurses and doctors were doing their best, but it was up to Kaiden to come back from the brink. 

And then, ever so slowly and painfully, even in his comatose state, there began to be small, tenuous signs of Kaiden’s fighting spirit beginning to turn the tide. His kidneys were the first to recover, and Ryan was the recipient of a “diaper change baptism,” something which he said was "the happiest I’ve ever been about pee in my entire life!” The seizures stopped, his breathing improved and he was taken off the ventilator, and the powerful drugs which had kept him unconscious were greatly diminished. His parents were, at long last, allowed to take their little son into their arms. His beautiful, chocolate brown eyes opened wide as he looked around with wonder at this new world and into the smiling faces of his family.

After overcoming many challenges, on October 9th (2 ½ weeks after he was born) Kaiden finally came home. What had been so sad and empty was now transformed into a home overflowing with happiness. The heart of the family began to beat, strong and whole.

But the joy of this beautiful new family is also sadly tempered by the sobering financial reality of their enormous medical bills, currently at an almost incomprehensible figure of $325,000. There is no insurance and the family is contemplating bankruptcy. There will also be significant long-term expenses, as it is likely that Kaiden will deal with some developmental challenges, as well as the high cost of child care, given that both Ryan and Jessie need to work.

Tragically, theirs is not a unique story. Medical debt is the #1 cause of bankruptcy in America and millions of lives are being shattered because of the abysmal state of insurance in this country. Jessie and Ryan never dreamed that they would be joining this statistic and will continue to work hard to pay their debts. But neither they, nor most of us, can withstand the heavy burden of such huge, unexpected expenses. We are all at risk for financial devastation.

We are telling this story on behalf of Jessie, Ryan, and Kaiden in the hopes that those of good hearts and means might be able to assist them. Any contribution will be very deeply appreciated as they work hard to regain financial solvency. If you can help, from all of our very grateful hearts, we sincerely thank you!

Kaiden wrapped in a cooling blanket and hooked up to pretty much every machine.

Even though Kaiden was born weighing in at 7.5 lbs, he measured at over 11 lbs just a few days later because his kidneys weren't functioning and he couldn't expel any of the IV fluids. 

Loving (and tired) parents

And so it begins...

Starting him young...

With his kidneys starting to function, the swelling gradually went down and Kaiden was able to open his eyes.

I wouldn't be amused with my start to the world if I was him either.

NO MORE TUBES!!! What a handsome little boy.
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Organizer and beneficiary

Clare Howatt 
Woodstock, IL
Ryan Tipton 
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