LEXINGTON, Ky. - March 3, 2013, is a day Heather and Dustin Stephens will never forget. Ever.
Their 6-week-old son, Kasen, had been sick. He had a cough that just would not stop. The worse his cough became, the more trouble Kasen had breathing. He had not spiked a fever, but they knew something was wrong.
So they decided to take Kasen to Baptist Regional Hospital in Corbin, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia. Kasen's breathing worsened, and doctors decided Kasen needed to be transported to the Kentucky Children's Hospital (KCH) for care. Heather and Dustin would follow the transport to Lexington.
As the KCH pediatric/neonatal transport team loaded Kasen into their specialized pediatric ambulance, they told Heather and Dustin that if anything happened while they were traveling - if Kasen's situation worsened - the driver would pull the ambulance over to the side of the road. If that happened, Heather and Dustin were to stay in their car and wait for information from someone in the ambulance.
About 15 minutes into their trip to Lexington, Heather and Dustin saw the ambulance pull over. Heather says at that point, everything became a fog.
Dustin jumped out and ran to the ambulance. Heather followed him. When they got to the ambulance, they witnessed the team performing CPR on their tiny baby.
The next moment was unfathomable for Heather.
"Kelly (Turner, of the transport team) said 'you're going to get in this ambulance, and you're going to kiss your baby'." Heather said. "I thought that would be the last time I kissed him, but it wasn't."
What followed was the longest drive of Heather's life, she said. Members of the transport team called Heather regularly throughout the rest of the trip to let her know that Kasen was doing well.
Kasen was one of the dozens of pediatric patients transported by the Kentucky Kids Crew this month. The Kentucky Kids Crew's Facebook page is filled with comments from appreciative parents,
For Heather, this experience was life changing. If not for the Kentucky Kids Crew, Heather says, she is certain Kasen's outcome would have been different.
"If it hadn't been them - a team that is specialized in what they do - I think we would have attended Kasen's funeral instead of bringing him home," Heather said.
On March 14, after 12 days in the Kentucky Children's Hospital, Kasen went home.
As Kasen continues to get stronger and grow, Heather remains thankful for the people who were there to care for Kasen during such a difficult time.
"They saved his life," Heather said. "They were God-sent for sure."