Mat, Charlie and Miriam

A Trio of Tiny Fighters

After dreaming for more than six years of having another child to join their oldest daughter, Anna, Ruth and Chuck Bell discovered that Ruth was pregnant with quadruplets, due in October 2014. Her pregnancy was mostly uneventful until she went into early labor in June.

At a local hospital, Ruth delivered four tiny preemies at just 24 weeks and two days gestation. James, Mat and Charlie were identical twin boys, and the only girl, Miriam, was fraternal. Tragically, at just six days old, the Bells lost James to a bilateral grade IV brain bleed and hydrocephalus.

Mat, Charlie and Miriam had a rough early start, spending nearly 150 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Rady Children’s Hospital where they underwent 14 surgeries, countless blood transfusions, multiple collapsed lungs and multiple infections. In November the tiny fighters were able to go home.

Charlie was perhaps the most medically complicated yet he battled on. A hole in his tiny heart meant surgery shortly after birth. “I remember when his heart surgeon approached us,” Ruth says, “he had to be one of the tallest men I’ve ever met. I was scared turning my baby over to a stranger, and skeptical that such a big man could operate on such a tiny baby, but after surgery he came out and celebrated with us. I was astounded; at the time Charlie probably weighed only 14 ounces.”

One day, while Charlie lay in the NICU fighting to grow bigger and stronger, Ruth received a phone call. Her chest tightened as she braced herself for concerning news. “The nurse on the other end calmly told me that he had just opened his eyes for the first time,” Ruth says. “It was the first time we received a good call, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It meant so much to me that she took the time out of her day to share the news with me.”

The Bells visit the NICU when they can to thank the staff whenever possible. “Everyone asks questions about Mat, Charlie and Miriam’s progress and you can see that they truly have a place in their heart for our kids. It’s proof that the size of each of their hearts must be enormous; it’s so clear that they care about each child they’ve helped.”

Now 4 years old, Mat, Charlie and Miriam still see their pediatrician, ophthalmologist, pulmonologist, urologist, general surgeon, gastroenterologist, dermatologist, nephrologist and psychologist. This little troop of three also attends physical therapy and developmental support services weekly.

Mat and Charlie were recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder “This news, while it isn’t great, is also not the worst experience we’ve had with our children,” Ruth says. “Our psychologist explained so much to me. She was encouraging but never tried to sugarcoat the disorder, and she helped me navigate what I needed to do next to make sure our boys get the best therapies and services.”

The boys see their psychologist once a year, “But I constantly update her and she is genuinely interested in their progress,” Ruth says. “That sums up our interaction with Rady Children’s. Each doctor, nurse, and medical professional cares about the wellbeing and future of our children. This isn’t simply a job to them.”

“I am not exaggerating when I tell you that our children would not be doing as well as they are if we weren’t blessed with the care we’ve received at Rady Children’s,” Ruth says. “We thank god that we were lucky enough to be in the care of these amazing professionals.”

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