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Texas family forced to ration premature baby’s oxygen tanks amid power outage

After losing power to their home in Killeen, Texas, on Monday night, the family has had to resort to desperate measures for survival.

Texas family forced to ration premature baby’s oxygen tanks amid power outage
Cover Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

Angel Garcia and her family lost power in their home in Killeen, Texas, on Monday night. Since then, they've been rationing oxygen tanks for their five-month-old son who was born with premature lungs. Speaking to CNN, Garcia — who is a nurse — revealed that her son, Christopher, was born at 26 weeks and requires supplemental oxygen. The family brought him home just three weeks ago and the mom-of-two has been keeping a close eye on him ever since they lost power. "We have an oxygen machine that converts room air, but since we've had no power, we've had to use our cylinders," Garcia explained on Wednesday evening.


"Those went out and they only deliver those once a month. We're not able to plug in his pulse oximeter to check on his oxygen. We're keeping a constant eye on him to see how he's doing," she added. Garcia and her husband made a makeshift heater out of a pot raised up on bricks above some candles to keep themselves and their two children warm in their home amid the deadly winter weather. When they saw that they were running out of wood, they resorted to burning their 3-year-old daughter’s baby blocks in the fireplace.


"A lot of people don't know the severity of what's going on. People are tearing down their fences to burn," Garcia said in between tears. "We started burning my daughter's little wooden blocks because it was just too cold." She says she hopes that people realize how bad the situation is in Texas right now, especially since it's a state where people are not accustomed to this type of cold weather. "Not everyone has gas but we waited in line about an hour and finally we were able to get some gas," she said.


"There's pretty much nowhere to go. Everyone in Texas is in the same boat. If they have electricity, there's no water. If they have water, there's no electricity," Garcia added. Many families across Texas are currently facing health concerns due to the blackouts. Helen Reed, a pediatric emergency room nurse, hasn't had power at her home in Robstown since Sunday night. This has made caring for her 91-year-old mother with dementia and her 23-year-old terminally ill daughter — who has Lennox Gastaut Syndrome in addition to 19 other diagnoses — at home extremely difficult.


While her mother — who hasn't had a warm meal in days — doesn't quite understand the situation, Reed has had to plug and unplug her daughter's feeding pump into a generator to get it to work. "Trying to keep the generator going has been nerve-wracking," she said. "Trying to keep the two of them from falling (in the dark), trying to manage my (daughter's) seizures, I can't even tell you, it's just compounded stress." The generator requires a top-up of gasoline every two hours and with gas in short supply, Reed said that she's been making do with a tank of gas her farmer neighbor gave her. They've been using it sparingly and to fuel a small space heater, she said.


"The heater worked well, only sometimes crashing the generator," Reed revealed. "We wore all of everything we own, layers of South Texas beach clothing, not designed for snow and ice. I don't feel like we had any kind of preparation for this. Because suddenly, there's no water, the stores are sold out and now the city is saying there's no water and it's like, what do you mean there's no water? When I went to the store, it's exactly like the first week of quarantine."


Her daughter stopped breathing twice on Tuesday evening and although Reed was expecting her to have the type of seizures she did with her medical condition, to see her have them in the environment they're living in was unbearable for her. "You want your child to be in as comfortable of a setting as possible and not in a situation where there is no light, it was cold, it was horrifying, I can't even convey how stressful it was," she said. "And that was also the night where the roads were iced over, I don't even know if we could have gotten an ambulance out here."

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