West Side Boy goes oxygen free for the first time since birth (Video)
First time mother, Lily Sheldon, knew something was wrong when she started having complications 24 weeks into her pregnancy.
“At first I thought I was sick or something, little did I know I was in labor,” said Lily.
Thankfully, the labor and delivery staff at Baystate Medical Center were able to stop her contractions for a about week. Gage was born premature at 25 weeks and a day.
“At first he was doing really well especially for being born at 25 weeks,” said Sheldon. “As time went on he started getting really tired and ended up needing more help, so he was placed on a ventilator,” she added.
Due to his deteriorating condition, Gage was on a ventilator for two months. Like many preemies that require ventilation after birth, Gage was diagnosed with Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia or BPD. BPD is a chronic respiratory disease that most often occurs in low-weight or premature infants who have received supplemental oxygen or have spent long periods of time on a breathing machine. The ventilator causes changes in the lungs that lead to inflammation making it hard for them to breathe on their own.
During his stay in Baystate's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Gage also experienced complications due to a hole in his heart. Baystate physicians teamed up with colleagues in Connecticut to arrange for a specialized heart surgery. The operation was a success and Gage recovered well.
Many infants’ diagnosed with BPD require ongoing oxygen supplementation, and Gage was no exception. After a three month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baystate Children’s Hospital, Gage had his NICU graduation and was able to go home. However, he would be required to be on oxygen until his BPD improved.
The Road To Recovery
After his stay in the NICU, Gage was referred to the Baystate Children’s Specialty Center, where the staff helps his family manage his BPD.
“The specialty center is great. We come twice a week to monitor his condition,” said Lily. “We are so close with all of our doctors and nurses. I always send his nurses picture of him, all of his doctors and nurses are like our extended family,” she added.
Dr. Kathleen Meyer is a neonatologist at the NICU at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and one of the physicians who has cared for Gage since birth. Meyer says as Gage’s condition began to improve, the decision was made to slowly wean him off of the oxygen.
“We saw that his BPD was getting better so we cut back his oxygen amounts little by little,” said Meyer.
Just in time for his first birthday in March, Gage and his family got a big surprise- after being on oxygen since birth, he would now no longer need any O2.
While his breathing has improved, he still has a long way to go with some of his other ailments.
“Due to the time spent on a ventilator, Gage also developed an oral aversion. An oral aversion is a reluctance or avoidance of eating, drinking, or accepting sensation in or around the mouth,” said Meyer. “He now has a feeding tube in place, but he is learning how to feed by mouth. Gage has an excellent prognosis for the future and he is improving greatly each day with his feeding,” she added.