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Kayden's Story - 137 Days in the NICU

When Deborah Sellick went to the doctor for a checkup 22 weeks into her first pregnancy, she thought her appointment would be routine. Instead, she found out she was going into labor, 18 weeks early.

“Basically, they told us to prepare for the worst,” says Deborah’s husband, Matt. With the help of modern medicine and an angled bed to keep him in, Deborah was able to delay the delivery of baby Kayden by nine days. When she delivered him on Mother’s Day, May 13, 2012, he weighed just 1 pound, 8 ounces and was 12 inches in length. “From there, he had some serious, life-threatening challenges,” Matt says. “It’s been such a roller-coaster ride.”

Kayden spent his first 137 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), aided by oxygen the entire time. Physicians discovered bleeding in the brain and three holes in his heart, two of which have now closed as he has grown. “His lungs were the biggest setback,” Matt says. “He was intubated for an extended period of time.” Kayden’s early delivery also made him susceptible to numerous infections.

“We found ourselves making so many hard decisions. To make life-altering decisions for a child is extremely hard and to do it for your own child as a new parent is unfathomable,” Matt says. “We had to leave it in God’s hands.”

Matt credits the physicians, nurses and other staff at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida for their tenacity in helping Kayden heal. “They were aggressive in their treatment,” he says. “They always told us what was happening and possible consequences. They said Kayden had a high risk of lifelong disabilities, but he’s doing extremely well.”

NICU nurse Jami Sealy, RN, spent many hours caring for Kayden and formed a bond with the family. “Kayden has always been a fighter,” Jami says. “He is a strong little boy who has already conquered many obstacles at such a young age. To leave the NICU after being born 17 weeks early is amazing all in itself.”

Jami said that during treatment, she remained realistic. “My expectations for Kayden were day by day,” she says. “The NICU is an up and down battle. Micro preemies are susceptible to infections, respiratory problems and brain bleeds to name a few. Kayden had to overcome a lot of hurdles early on. By working with his parents, we set realistic goals, with the end goal always being to get Kayden home with his parents.” Jami still communicates with the family and says she expects Kayden to push beyond his current limitations. “I believe he will continue to thrive,” she says. “Kayden has already proven that a former 23-week infant can grow and develop into a smiling and sociable toddler.”

Kayden continues to make progress and is catching up with other babies his age. “We really want to give back now,” Matt says. “We had so much support from family, friends and people we didn’t even know. Until you have been in this situation, you have no idea how difficult it is—it’s humbling.”

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