In one of the wards of the Babies' Hospital, at 657 Lexington Avenue, a baby, born prematurely, is thriving in an incubator. The expectation is that the child will emerge from the incubator in about two weeks about as well equipped to enter upon the struggle for existence as is the ordinary weakly infant.
The incubator is a box about 3 feet long and 18 inches wide. There is a shelf in the box, which serves as the foundation for the thick bed of soft cotton upon which the child lies. Over the box is placed a glass cover, one end of which is slightly raised by a piece of wood for the purpose of giving ventilation. The heat is supplied through a tin tube about three inches in diameter, and is obtained from kerosene lamps, which are kept burning day and night, regulated as to the amount of flame by thermometers inside the incubator. The intention is to keep the temperature inside the incubator at about 92°.
Stretching, twisting, rolling, and squirming, the infant whose life the hospital people have undertaken to save is passing comfortably through the period of incubation, and while at first sight of him one is somewhat shocked at his eagreness and skinniness, he gradually gazes at him contentedly, impressed and reassured by the history of his case as related by the hospital physician and his nurse.
The little boy was born about two months in advance of the proper time, and his mother died just as he came into the world. Had he at once been placed in an incubator there would have been no doubt that he would do well. But a friend of the boy's mother undertook to bring him up and kept him in her care for four weeks. When she turned him over to the Babies' Hospital he weighed but three pounds and was terribly emaciated. It was decided at once that there was but one way to save the little fellow's life, and that that was to put him into an incubator.
The boy has steadily improved. He takes his milk twelve times a day, part of it from the bottle and part of it from the breast, and he enjoys every mouthful. When he came to the hospital he had practically but one lung, the other had collapsed. To-day the collapsed lung has become serviceable again.
It seems almost too much to believe, but there is a probability that the helpless, pitiable atom in the box may develop into a strong, handsome man. The nurse says that her charge may some day be the President of the United States.