In 2001, Stacy Gooden-Crandle gave birth to a premature baby that was given a one percent chance of survival. The baby, born 23 weeks early, weighed just two pounds and nine ounces and had a series of ailments, including bleeding on the brain and underdeveloped organs. Faced with such a grim prognosis, doctors offered Gooden-Crandle a way out by signing a do-not-resuscitate form that would release her from any responsibility and “let nature take its course.”
A woman of faith, the single mom did not give in. She wanted her son to have a fighting chance and refused to sign the form. Miraculously, 22 years later, the tiny, premature baby she once held in the palm of her hand has grown into a 6-foot-3, 254-pound football star. On April 28, Derick Hall—the boy who was given very slim odds to make it through his first night—was selected by the Seattle Seahawks on the second night of the NFL draft.
Derick Hall: from Preemie to NFL Draft
In a recent ESPN feature entitled “One Percent Chance,” Stacy Gooden-Crandle recalled how the life-and-death decision was presented to her in the hospital.
“I remember looking up, [there were] about 20 physicians and specialists in the room,” she said. “They said he had a 1% chance of living and if he lived through the night, he would have no quality of life. He wouldn’t walk, he wouldn’t talk. They basically said to me, are you prepared to take care of a child like that? And if you’re not, here’s this form. Sign it.”
Instead, Gooden-Crandle turned to her faith, which helped her “through a lot of difficult moments while my baby was in the hospital,” according to an article by the Memorial Health System (Mississippi), which cared for Derick in its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
In the article, she offered advice for parents in similar situations: “It’s important to be an advocate for your baby, enjoy every moment, and celebrate every win no matter how little it may be. Stay positive while you’re visiting your baby and know that God is a healer.”
After five months in the ICU, Derick was released from the hospital. Despite medical challenges that continued for several years, he not only survived but thrived—especially when it came to football. After outstanding playing careers at Gulfport (Miss.) High School and Auburn University, Derick is eager to realize his dream of playing in the NFL. After the draft, he was quick to credit his mom.
“Not everybody's granted the opportunity to have a great mother like I have. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here,” he said in the Memorial Health System article. “My mom is my hero and my go-to person. She has made so many sacrifices for me and my sister that without her, I don’t know if I would be here today and be the man that I am.”
When asked what they would share with families who are experiencing a similar situation, Derick says, “Stay strong, pray, and don’t think that all hope is lost because that’s what you’re being told.”
After the NFL draft, Gooden-Crandle reflected on her son’s journey to the NFL with thankfulness.
“I just wanted him to have a normal life where he could walk and talk and feed himself,” she said. “I was just thinking, Lord, ‘Let him make it through the night.’ And here we are 22 years later…all of this is a bonus.”
In a social media post, Students For Life applauded Stacy Gooden-Crandle, noting how Derick’s success is a result of her advocacy for his life as a preemie baby.
Care Net also salutes Gooden-Crandle. Her decision to choose life for her son is a testament to what can happen when a parent makes such a courageous decision. Across our nation every day, thousands of women and couples are at similar crossroads. Some are dealing with potential medical issues. Others are considering abortion due to financial pressures, career decisions, and other challenges. Those babies, like Derick Hall, all deserve a fighting chance.