Monday, July 27, 2015

BOOK - 'Girl in Glass'

aka The Greed Files

"Being shamed by a CEO turned this mom into a health privacy advocate" PBS NewsHour 7/21/2015


SUMMARY:  Deanna Fei was thrilled when her daughter, born premature at 25 weeks, came home from the hospital.  Then, her husband’s boss – the CEO of AOL – claimed he was trimming workers’ retirement benefits because the company had spent too much money on medicals bills from “distressed babies.”  William Brangham talks to Fei about the experience and her new memoir, “Girl in Glass.”

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, when one family’s personal drama sparked national headlines.

Deanna Fei’s premature baby girl had survived a long, arduous stay in the hospital, when she and her family were thrust into controversy.  It happened when the CEO of AOL, where her husband worked, said he would cut benefits for all workers because of high medical costs for cases like hers.

She describes the experience in a new memoir called “Girl in Glass:  How My ‘Distressed Baby’ Defied the Odds, Shamed a CEO, and Taught Me the Essence of Love, Heartbreak, and Miracles.

William Brangham talked with her recently in Brooklyn, New York.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  Deanna Fei was just 25 weeks pregnant, hard at work on her second novel and months away from her delivery date.  She’d been researching translations for a plot twist where one of her main characters would have a miscarriage.

That night, her own contractions came out of nowhere.  Rushing to the hospital with shooting pains in her womb, the translation of the word, “calamity” was still on her computer screen.

DEANNA FEI, Author, “Girl in Glass”:  The pain just got worse and worse and worse.  And I found myself desperately thinking, like, could this be Braxton Hicks contractions, you know, the false labor?

But it felt nothing like that.  And by the time I got to the hospital, I was fully dilated.  And the doctors had to perform an emergency C-section.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  Nothing in Fei’s own history predicted a calamity like this.  She and her husband, Peter Goodman, had always been the lucky types, traveling the world together, pursuing careers in writing and journalism.

During a trip to India in 2010, they made an offhand prayer to the Hindu gods to bless them with their first child, and nine months later, a chubby boy named Leo was born, healthy and right on time.  This second pregnancy, which was a surprise, came almost a year after Leo’s birth and had been going just as well, until those pains started.

DEANNA FEI:  All that was in my head was, I think I lost my baby.  I had a miscarriage.  And when the nurses and doctors said things like, congratulations, would you like to take a picture of her, I almost felt like it was a kind of farce.  And both my husband and I had this feeling of, this isn’t how a baby gets born.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  She was a baby girl, weighing just one pound, nine ounces, barely a quarter of her brother’s birth weight.

One doctor described her skin as — quote — “gelatinous.”  Because she’d arrived so early, she had few of the normal functions or immunities babies develop in utero, so she had to live enclosed in this glass incubator in a neonatal intensive care unit.  Her parents were even reluctant to give her a name at first.

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