Boy Who Once Fit in the Palm of a Hand Goes Home After 460 Days in the NICU — and Gets a Parade!

Baby Kendall only weighed 15 ounces when he was born at 25 weeks in December 2020

Sparkle Jurnakins
Sparkle Jurnakins with son Kendall. Photo: Sparkle Jurnakins

A day to remember!

Kendall Jurnakins, now 15 months old, was treated to a big celebration earlier this month, when he was finally cleared to leave Ascension St. Vincent Women's Hospital in Indianapolis following a 460-day stay in the neonatal intensive care unit.

As they said their goodbyes on March 16, hospital staff threw a cheer parade for baby Kendall, who was born in December 2020, according to Good Morning America. Footage of the joyous moment shows Kendall and his parents exiting together while surrounded on both sides by applause and cheers.

"This moment, actually, I have no words," NICU medical director Dr. Taha Ben Saad told NBC affiliate WTHR. "It's such a reward for all of us."

Kendall only weighed 15 ounces when he was born at 25 weeks, according to WTHR, which reported that he was so small he could fit in the palm of somebody's hand.

Staff at Ascension St Vincent Women’s Hospital
Staff at Ascension St. Vincent Women's Hospital celebrate Kendall Jurnakins' big moment. Courtesy Ascension St. Vincent

At the time, his chance of survival was between around 50 to 60%, Ben Saad told GMA.

"I just was scared my baby wasn't gonna make it," mom Sparkle Jurnakins, 41, told the outlet of her son, who suffered from respiratory distress syndrome and chronic lung disease following his arrival.

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In order for her son "to be healthy," Jurnakins told GMA, he underwent a tracheostomy and was also placed on a ventilator.

Eight months later, Jurkanins faced a health scare of her own after contracting COVID-19.

"COVID almost took me out," she told the outlet. "From August to October, I was in a coma."

After recovering from the virus in December, Jurnakins got to reunite with her son — and despite her fears that "he was not gonna remember me," she said her boy "looked at me the whole time."

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Of course, Jurnakins and her husband weren't the only members of their family who were excited to welcome baby Kendall home.

"My son said, 'We don't have to go to Disney' for his birthday this year," she told WTHR. "He said, 'This is my gift, the best gift ever, to get him home.' "

Kendall, his parents Sparkle and Keith Jurnakins,
The Jurnakins family at Ascension St. Vincent Women's Hospital. Courtesy Ascension St. Vincent

For Jurnakins, leaving the hospital with her baby, who is still using tracheostomy and feeding tubes, was "the best day of my life."

"I couldn't believe it. I was just like, 'Oh, my baby really made it,' " she recalled to GMA. "I prayed. I cried. I was happy. I was sad. I was everything but I was ready for my baby to come home."

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