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A shaky start, a bright future

Immediately after Benjamin’s birth, the care team at his family’s local hospital noticed major problems—Benjamin had persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), which is a failure of the normal circulatory transition that occurs after birth. The medical team could not stabilize him and they anticipated that he would need ECMO—a service that was provided at Duke Children’s. Benjamin was airlifted to Duke, and his parents soon followed.

Benjamin started ECMO at Duke Children’s shortly after arriving. ECMO is a treatment that uses a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung, acting as a heart-lung bypass so a patient’s heart and lungs have time to strengthen and heal. Benjamin remained on ECMO for six days, and then was transferred back to Duke Children’s Intensive Care Nursery, where he remained for over two months. His parents remember this time as particularly isolating, but are appreciative of the small touches and efforts the Duke Children’s caretakers offered to make the family more comfortable.

When Benjamin was released he had a feeding tube, and also had regular appointments with the Duke Children’s Special Care Infant Clinic until he was approximately two years old, as well as speech and physical therapy. His feeding tube was removed in early 2016. Now Benjamin is four and a half, and while he will likely have life-long bilateral vocal-chord paralysis—a side effect of his ordeal—he is a regular kid who loves books, playing outside, cars, and trains. Because of Duke Children’s, and supporters like you, Benjamin’s shaky start has turned into a stable future. Thank you for supporting Duke Children’s!