1.6 pound micro preemie-turned-nurse to work at NICU that saved her life

Hayley Good is headed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to begin her nursing career

“I grew up knowing how the nurses saved my life,” Hayley Good, 22, told People. She entered the world 22 years ago as a 1 pound, 9 ounce newborn. As a micro preemie delivered after just 24 weeks of gestation and weighing only 24% of the average full-term newborn, her life was on the line.

“I was told that they tirelessly worked and advocated for me, even though they weren’t even sure if I was going to survive.”

From the brain to the lungs to the liver, several vital organs remain only partially developed during the final weeks of gestation. The earliest the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests scheduling a delivery is at 39 weeks of pregnancy.

In 2001, Good’s parents, Heith and Pamela, lost their first daughters — identical twins — after 23 weeks of pregnancy.

“They did not survive the birth,” Good said.

Out of nearly 11,000 births where doctors tried to save premature newborns, according to a 2022 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 30% of babies born at 22 weeks, 56% born at 23 weeks and 71% born at 24 weeks at least lived until they were healthy enough to be sent home.

A year after the death of their first children, the Goods were pregnant with another set of twin girls.

“We don’t have twins on either side of the family. They would always tell me, they felt like the Lord was giving them their twins back a year later,” Good added.

Good and her identical sister were born June 9, 2002. For the Ohio native, a fight for survival had just begun. Her sister died two days after birth.

“She was so sick, she just didn’t survive,” she said.

Good had heart surgery shortly after birth, then spent the next 4½ months in NICUs at Ohio State University Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Now a bachelor’s degree in nursing graduate from Cedarville University, she starts work in Nationwide’s lifesaving NICU on July 7.

“The NICU’s where I feel most at home,” Good said.

And in that home she plans on being a beacon of hope for distraught parents in the same way nurses cared for her decades before.

“It happened to me, and my parents were in that spot and they didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said.

“I think in the NICU it’s really hard for them to grasp and imagine that their kid will be able to go to high school and college and graduate and be successful.”

She added, “that’s what I’m most excited for, to be able to share my story and show them that there is possibility, that it could be possible for their child too.”