Mom Gave Baby “A Fighting Chance”

In 2001, Stacy Gooden-Crandle gave birth to a premature baby who was given a one percent chance of survival. The baby, who was born 23 weeks premature, weighed just two pounds and nine ounces and had a series of ailments, including bleeding on the brain and underdeveloped organs. Faced with a dire prognosis, doctors offered Gooden-Crandle a way out by signing a do-not-resuscitate form that would release her from any responsibility and “let nature take its course.”

A woman of faith, the single mother never gave up. She wanted her son to have a fighting chance and refused to sign the form. Amazingly, 22 years later, the tiny, premature baby he once held in the palm of his hand has grown into a 6-foot-3, 254-pound football star. On April 28, Derick Hall—the boy who was given very little chance of success on his first night—was selected by the Seattle Seahawks on the second night of the NFL draft.

Derick Hall: from Preemie to NFL Draft

In a recent The ESPN feature titled “One Percent Chance,” Stacy Gooden-Crandle remembers how she was presented with the life-and-death decision at the hospital.

“I remember looking up, [there were] about 20 physicians and specialists in the room,” he said. “They said he had a 1% chance of survival and if he lived through the night, he would have no quality of life. He doesn’t walk, he doesn’t talk. They really said to me, are you ready to take care of a child like that? And if you’re not, here’s this form. Sign it.”

Instead, Gooden-Crandle turned to her faith, which helped her “through many difficult moments while my son was in the hospital,” according to an article by Memorial Health System (Mississippi)who cared for Derick in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

In the article, she offered advice for parents in similar situations: “It’s important to be an advocate for your baby, enjoy every moment, and celebrate every win no matter how small. Stay positive as you visit your baby and know that God is a healer.”

After five months in the ICU, Derick was released from the hospital. Despite medical challenges that persisted for several years, he not only survived but thrived—especially when it came to football. After outstanding playing careers at Gulfport (Miss.) High School and Auburn University, Derick is eager to fulfill his dream of playing in the NFL. After the draft, he quickly named his mother.

“Not everyone is given the opportunity to have a great mother like me. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here,” he said in the Memorial Health System article. “My mother is my hero and my focus. She made so many sacrifices for me and my sister that without her, I don’t know if I would be here today and be who I am.”

When asked what they would share with families going through a similar situation, Derick said, “Stay strong, pray, and don’t think all hope is lost because that’s what you’re told.”

After the NFL draft, Gooden-Crandle is grateful for her son’s NFL journey.

“I just want him to have a normal life where he can walk and talk and feed himself,” she said. “I was just thinking, Lord, ‘Let him spend the night.’ And here we are 22 years later…it’s all a bonus.”

In a social media post, Students For Life applauded Stacy Gooden-Crandle, noting how Derick’s success was a result of her advocacy for her life as a preemie baby.

Care Net also congratulates Gooden-Crandle. Her decision to choose life for her son is a testament to what can happen when a parent makes a bold decision. Across our country every day, thousands of women and couples are at a similar crossroads. Some deal with potential medical issues. Others consider abortion because of financial pressures, career decisions, and other challenges. Those babies, like Derick Hall, deserve every chance to fight.

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