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After a Long Journey, Gage Is Breathing On His Own

Baystate’s NICU provides a supportive home to Gage and his parents for his first three months.

Category: Pediatrics

First-time mother Lily Sheldon felt ill 24 weeks into her pregnancy. “At first, I thought I was just sick. Little did I know I was in labor,” says Lily.

Thankfully, the labor and delivery staff at Baystate Medical Center were able to stop her contractions for about week. Gage was born prematurely at just 25 weeks and a day.

“At first, he was doing really well—especially for being born at 25 weeks,” says Sheldon. “As time went on, he started getting really tired and ended up needing more help, so he was placed on a ventilator.”


Gage was on a ventilator for two months. Like many preemies that need help with breathing 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 been given extra oxygen or have spent a long time on a breathing machine. The ventilator causes changes in the lungs that lead to inflammation. This makes 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 doctors teamed up with colleagues in Connecticut to arrange for a specialized heart surgery. The operation was a success and Gage recovered well.

After three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baystate Children’s Hospital, Gage had his NICU graduation. He was able to go home, but he would need to stay on oxygen until his BPD improved.


After his stay in the NICU, Gage started visiting Baystate Children’s Specialty Center, where the staff helps his BPD. 

“The specialty center is great,” says Lily. “We come twice a week to check his condition. We are so close with all of our doctors and nurses. I send his nurses pictures of him. All of his doctors and nurses are like our extended family,” she adds.

Dr. Kathleen Meyer is a neonatologist at the NICU at Baystate Children’s Hospital, and one of the doctors who has cared for Gage since his birth. Dr. Meyer explains that as Gage’s condition began to improve, he was slowly taken off of the oxygen.

Just in time for his first birthday, Gage and his family got a wonderful surprise: After being on oxygen since birth, Gage would now no longer need any oxygen.

“Gage has an excellent prognosis for the future and he is improving greatly each day,” Dr. Meyer says.