Parents petition for life-saving medication for babies




Posted on November 13, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 13 at 6:34 PM

FRISCO – Bouncing baby Finley and his curious twin sister, Brenna, are the joy of Dawn McKeag's life.

Born prematurely, at just 27 weeks into pregnancy, Brenna weighed two pounds, one ounce; Finley weighed in three ounces lighter.

"Unfortunately, they didn't get to have as much of the development in the womb as term babies do," Dawn said. "So they're a lot more susceptible to getting sick."

Last winter, the preemies were given a dose of Synagis, a medicine to protect them against the RSV virus. RSV causes a harmless cold in most people, but can be deadly for preemies with under-developed immune systems.

In 2009, the American Academy of Pediatrics decided to limit the number of premature infants eligible for the life-saving, but expensive, medicine.

"The typical person that goes to the emergency room to get IV rehydration, the bill is around $4,000 to $5,000," said Fort Worth pediatrician Dr. Frank McGehee. "So if you prevent one hospital a day by giving the injection five times, it's worth it."

That's why Dawn McKeag –– and mothers across the country –– are waging a petition drive, asking the academy to reconsider those guidelines.

"It's tough when you can't have access to that sort of medicine," McKeag said. "And if insurance doesn't pay for it, it's about $1,000 out of pocket. Per shot. Which is too expensive for parents."

McKeag said she would do anything to protect her children.

Without the medicine, she says her babies must spend this winter in quarantine at home, away from other people who could carry viruses.