“All the odds were against this kid,” said William Malcolm, MD, a neonatologist and medical director of Duke's Special Infant Care Clinic. “He’s thriving, and the reasons he’s thriving are his parents, the amount of services we provided at Duke, and Collier himself. You get emotional about outcomes like this.”
Before Collier was born, tests at Duke Children’s Hospital showed a problem with the baby’s lungs. When Natalie Hart went into premature labor, the neonatology team was ready.
On July 3, 2014, Collier arrived at 32 weeks weighing 4 pounds, 3 ounces — and crying. No one expected him to be able to cry. Natalie and husband Eric Hart were ecstatic even as their new baby was whisked away to be placed on a ventilator.
Collier’s lungs were “stiff and couldn’t expand,” Malcolm said. “His heart had to pump extra hard to put blood in there to be oxygenated, so he developed pulmonary hypertension.”
Six months later, Collier had not improved. He remained on the ventilator, had a feeding tube, was on painkillers and sedatives. He was on a cocktail of medicines his mother, Natalie, recalled. “Doctors were talking about him possibly having infant delirium. He was out of it, shaking his head a lot.”