The Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health continued the 2016 “Home Run For Life” series last Friday at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark by recognizing Olivia Chilton and Olivia Koch, the smallest surviving babies born at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center.
Chilton was born in 1996 weighing one pound, two ounces and very premature at just 25 weeks gestation. But today she is a healthy 19-year-old finishing up her freshman year at Oklahoma State University.
She held the distinction of being the hospital’s smallest surviving baby for 19 years, until Olivia Koch’s birth June 16, 2015. Olivia Koch was born at just 24 weeks gestation, weighing in at just 15 ounces, or less than one pound.
“Home Run For Life” recognizes individuals in the Oklahoma City community who have overcome a significant medical event with the help of their families, physicians and health care professionals. To symbolize the end of their battle against adversity, honorees take a home run “lap” around the bases during an in-game ceremony.
“The Home Run For Life series allows us to highlight some amazing people in the local area who have prevailed against extraordinary health challenges,” OKC Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “Their determination and courage inspire us all and we are pleased to honor these individuals throughout the season with our partner INTEGRIS Health.”
The two Olivias being honored Friday share much more than a first name.
Their mothers, Michelle Chilton and Chyloe Koch, both had severe preeclampsia, which caused both of their babies to be born so early. Their Olivias each had a similar heart condition and both required an eye procedure to keep their retinas from detaching.
Both baby Olivias even had light blonde hair when they were born.
Debbie McCann, clinical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at INTEGRIS Baptist, said the resemblance between the two Olivias is almost uncanny.
McCann, a staff veteran of 27 years, worked at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center during the birth of both tiny Olivias.
“If you look at photos of the two girls, they look identical,” McCann said. “Those of us who were here when Olivia Chilton was born feel like history is repeating itself. And we hope it does, because Chilton has grown up to be a remarkable and incredibly healthy young woman.”
When Chyloe Koch first found out she would be having a baby girl, she chose the name Olivia for her daughter, obviously having no idea what distinction she would later share with another Olivia born at the Oklahoma City hospital.
Olivia Chilton was born on May 5, 1996 and went on to spend 97 days in the hospital. Today she wears hearing aids, but that is the only detail that might give away her early entry into the world.
Olivia Koch spent more than 100 days in the hospital after her birth, undergoing multiple procedures and gaining three pounds before she was able to go home for the first time.
Today, Olivia Koch weighs more than 11 pounds and has so far passed all of her hearing tests.
The two Olivias’ mothers are amazed that members of the same staff that helped Olivia Chilton are still working at INTEGRIS Baptist today and also cared for Olivia Koch.
“We love those people,” Michelle Chilton said. “Those people saved our daughters’ lives…I think it is amazing that they love what they do so much that for 19 years they are still there. I mean, that says a lot about them. And they never treat them like patients, they treat them like babies and they love them, just like their own.”
Chyloe Koch said she wanted to meet the Chiltons after learning their story, and meeting the staff that also cared for their daughter.
“They know what we are going through,” Chyloe Koch said. “They have walked in our shoes. I don’t know what the future holds for my daughter, but meeting Olivia Chilton, I now can see what is possible.”