A premature baby who spent most of her first year in the hospital has returned home just in time for her birthday. Born on August 22, 2011 at just 23 weeks, Olive Rutkowski weighed less than two pounds, her father, Ben Rutkowski, told WANE.
Olive had pneumonia when she was born in South Bend, Ind., where her parents were visiting friends, and she stayed in the hospital there for nearly five months. "Her lungs were very underdeveloped ... And what little tiny lungs she had were mostly scar tissue. That's been the biggest hurdle. She got pneumonia again when she was about 2 months old, and they really didn't expect her to survive at all," her father said.
Olive was then transferred to a hospital in Fort Wayne, Ind., where her parents lived, but a few months ago, her mom moved to Omaha, Neb., for a new job. Ben stayed in Fort Wayne with his daughter because she was not stable enough to travel such a long distance by car, WANE reports.
Now, with the help of the nonprofit organization Grace On Wings, Olive has reunited with her mother. According to its website, the charity air ambulance service was "inspired by the need of two young Indianapolis girls who suffer from a genetic bone disorder that requires regular visits to a Baltimore specialist." To qualify, patients must be too sick for ground transportation and must need to travel at least 150 miles.
The organization made news earlier this year when Stacey Harris, a mother from Indianapolis, was reunited with her 2-year-old son who was being treated in a hospital in California. “I wouldn’t have my son here if it wasn’t for them,” she told WISH TV.
Olive's father echoed Harris' words. "We wouldn't have been able to go home if it wasn't for them," he told WANE.