IOWA CITY, Ia. — Effie Campbell feared the worst when doctors told her the baby boy who had been growing inside her for only 26 weeks was about to arrive well ahead of schedule.

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Campbell, 33, had checked herself into the emergency room at her hometown hospital in Mount Pleasant on Aug. 28, believing that the mild contractions she’d put up with while working her usual shift at a nursing home had merely grown worse. Hospital staff informed her that she had actually been in labor all day.



Effie Campbell holds her son, Oliver, for the first time Sept. 7 at Stead Family Children's Hospital. Oliver was born at 26 weeks and will spend at least his first three months of life in the hospital's newborn intensive care unit. The hospital is investing in new staff and equipment designed to care for premature babies, funded in part by the $3 million that Carson King helped raise last September.


© Photo by Jay Stokes
Effie Campbell holds her son, Oliver, for the first time Sept. 7 at Stead Family Children’s Hospital. Oliver was born at 26 weeks and will spend at least his first three months of life in the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit. The hospital is investing in new staff and equipment designed to care for premature babies, funded in part by the $3 million that Carson King helped raise last September.

There was one more complication: The hospital no longer was equipped to deliver babies.

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Campbell overheard some nurses discussing whether her son would be born alive. She wondered how tiny her first-born would be, knowing he was three months ahead of his due date. Would he even be able to cry?

The call went out to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, an hour north in Iowa City. The hospital dispatched its neonatal transport team, two experts who arrived in an ambulance filled with state-of-the-art technology designed to give babies born extremely premature a fighting chance.

Oliver Stokes entered the world