Riverton community rallies around family of 1 lb premature baby, Hazel

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Baby Hazel Cheryl Anne Toole was born on May 27 at a remarkably tiny 1.2 pounds. Her mother was only 23 weeks pregnant when Hazel arrived, father Kevin Toole said.

Early in the morning on May 27 after a long Memorial Day, Toole said his girlfriend Heather Finlayson began having contractions. When it became clear to the couple that the pain she was feeling was not typical, the couple rushed to the emergency room in Riverton.

After several hours of observation by the night nurses, the morning doctor arrived early to assess the situation, Toole said. The couple were told their baby had to come early, that there was no way to stop Hazel’s arrival. A neonatal team from Denver flew to Riverton to deliver the severely premature girl via caesarian section. After she was delivered, the team and Toole undertook the dangerous mission of flying the baby to Denver. Toole said Finlayson couldn’t come immediately due to recovery needs.

In an online statement, Toole said Hazel’s chances of survival was only 17 percent. But little Hazel is still alive today. Finlayson was able to join the rest of her family in Denver a couple days later.

“The doctors are doing a fantastic job doing every thing they can to keep Hazel alive but she needs the support and love from her mommy and daddy if she is going to make it threw (sic) these hard and trying months ahead,” Toole wrote. “She will be in critical condition until her original due date September 20th possibly longer.”

Many of the complications of the premature birth have begun to subside, including bleeding in the brain. She is currently suffering a skin infection, but Toole said it appears to be receding as well.

“The community has been great,” Toole said. He set up a page on gofundme.com to help raise money so he and Finlayson can stay in Denver until Hazel is healthy enough to leave Presbyterian/Saint Lukes Medical Center.

After nine days, more than $5,100 has been raised. Toole said a few of his military buddies have donated, but most of the funds have come from people in Riverton. You can donate to the family here and follow this Facebook page for updates.

Hazel Cheryl Anne Toole. Photo provided.

Hazel Cheryl Anne Toole. Photo provided.