A Flood Survivor Named Noah

Expectant mom Rebekah Markham of Louisiana participates in a group prayer before the birth of her son.
Expectant mom Rebekah Markham of Louisiana participates in a group prayer before the birth of her son. (Photos By Alex Brandon -- Associated Press)

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By Janet McConnaughey
Associated Press
Wednesday, January 17, 2007

COVINGTON, La., Jan. 16 -- Rescued from a great flood while he was a frozen embryo, a baby boy entered the world Tuesday and was named after the most famous flood survivor of them all: Noah.

Noah Benton Markham -- 8 pounds 6 1/2 ounces -- was born to Rebekah Markham, 32, by Caesarean section after growing from an embryo that nearly thawed in a sweltering hospital during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"All babies are miracles. But

we have some special miracles," said Wanda Stogner, a Markham cousin.

Relatives gathered around New Orleans police officer Glen Markham as the proud 42-year-old father carried the blanket-wrapped bundle topped by a pink-and-blue cap out of the operating room at St. Tammany Parish Hospital. He tried to make them guess whether the baby was a boy or a girl.

Then he announced "It's a boy!" to an eruption of cheers and applause.

Two weeks after Katrina hit in August 2005, law officers used boats to rescue the Markhams' embryos and about 1,400 others stored at New Orleans's Lakeland Hospital.

The storage tanks had been topped off with liquid nitrogen and moved from the first floor to the third as the storm drew near, but the hurricane swamped the hospital with eight feet of water and knocked out power.

The Markhams had stored embryos after nearly a decade of infertility. They had decided that if their baby was a girl, she would be named Hannah, meaning "God has favored us." A boy would be named after the biblical builder of the ark -- an idea that came from Rebekah Markham's sister-in-law.

Noah's 2-year-old brother, Glen Witter "Witt" Markham Jr., whose embryo was created at the same time as Noah's but implanted immediately in 2003, stood on his mother's hospital bed and leaned forward to give the baby a gentle kiss.

"So soft!" Witt said.

If the embryos had thawed, each woman who wanted another baby would have had to undergo another round of fertility drugs, egg harvesting and in vitro fertilization. Rebekah Markham estimated her first pregnancy cost $12,000.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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