Mother, newborn stranded in Austin finally make it home

The bags were packed up and so was the baby.

The sight of that Thursday morning, provided some long awaited relief for Sarah Pratta.

"Oh, you have no idea, how relieved I feel,” said Pratta.

Pratta is from Pennsylvania and arrived last month in Austin on a business trip with her husband, Steve. On April 14th in their downtown hotel room she unexpectedly went into labor.

"My water broke and I knew instantly that I would be stuck here,” said Pratta.

The baby was nine weeks premature and taken to St. David's. Once there, it was decided the baby would be named for the town he was born in. Not long after a new family picture was taken, Steve and their four-year-old son went back home.

The month long separation that followed was not easy. In an effort to be reunited, the family requested the use of an air ambulance but their insurance company, Aetna, rejected it.

"They had letters that actually came to our house, written to Austin, saying your condition doesn't qualify for medical transfer was just ridiculous and very frustrating, said Pratta.

Putting the baby on a commercial flight just wasn't a realistic option according to Rhonda Reed who heads up St. Davids NIC-Unit. "So being premature he has a premature immune system, so he is more suitable to any kind of germs and infections like that, and he has had no immunizations,” said Reed.

Aetna eventually had a change of heart and paid for the air ambulance.

But only after Sarah's company offered to pick up the bill.

There was also pressure from media reports and a keystone state congressman.

"It actually made me, realize we should have asked for this help earlier, ha, that’s sort of the lesson I learned, people want to help you when you are in a crisis, they really do."

The crisis had an unexpected twist. The family separation created a family reconnection that was just a few steps away. A woman Sarah embraced Thursday was Casey Slusher; a long lost cousin.

Slusher works at the hospital and said she got a frantic call shortly after the baby arrived. "They said we are at St David's Medical Center and I said, I'm two floors above you while we were on the phone with each other,” said Slusher.

The surprise provided a place to stay and created a lasting bond.

"I literally would not have survived,” said Pratta.

Around mid-morning, hospital staff transferred Baby Austin to the flight team.  Mother and son were driven to executive airport near Manor where there was little time for goodbyes.

A chance for developing storms in the midsouth threatened to ground the flight. So after loading up, the plane taxied away, and in moments was airborne, heading northeast toward home.