Owen, 2020 Kid HERO Crew member
“Owen’s story is one of a fighter, a triplet, and a very small, premature baby. Owen and his brothers, Cooper and Silas, were born at 24 weeks and 2 days, almost 4 months too soon, on July 18, 2018. Owen weighed in at 1 pound 10 oz and 12 inches long, the biggest of the three boys. Each brother entered this world crying and breathing on their own, however, not long after birth, Owen was placed on a ventilator for respiratory support. Within 15 hours all three boys were on full respiratory support and started their fight for their lives in the Intensive Care Nursery (ICN) at CHaD.
Owen and his brothers, Silas and Cooper, in the ICN
In the next 24 hours, Owen was struggling the most of the three, already having his first of three chest tubes placed and a head ultrasound performed to assess for a bleed in his brain. Yet, it was his brother Cooper who unfortunately lost his battle less than two days after coming into this world, due to his premature lungs. Thanks to the competent Medical Staff, compassionate Nursing, and dedicated Respiratory Therapists, Owen was held for the first time by his mother only hours after Cooper passed away, allowing the importance of Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin) to assist in his recovery. Owen and his parents then said goodbye to their beloved Silas six days later, after he battled many complexities of prematurity and his lungs could no longer support his small body.
Owen spent the next 168 days combating almost every common condition of a 24-week-old micro-preemie in the ICN. He survived a brain bleed which led to fluid build up on the brain (hydrocephalus) and brain surgery before his due date, three chest tubes placed to assist with collapsed lungs, multiple blood transfusions, suspected infections treated with multiple rounds of antibiotics, and weeks of being placed on paralytics to avoid fighting his ventilator support. Finally, due to an inability to extubate successfully, Owen had his last surgery, which included a tracheostomy so he could breathe independently with a ventilator while also working to develop normally as a baby. Owen’s tracheostomy surgery was paired with surgeries for a G-tube placement, as eating by mouth was and is still difficult for Owen, as well as bilateral hernia repairs, again all occurring BEFORE Owen was even due to be born.
Owen’s mom, Jessica, reading to Owen
Owen and his parents celebrate his last day in the ICN!
After 174 long days, on January 8, 2019, Owen’s parents finally got to carry their six-month-old baby, and a car full of medical equipment, out of the ICN for the first time. In the next two months, Owen was weaned off of all oxygen support. Within six months he was trialing time off of the ventilator’s pressure support, and by October 2019 he could breathe on his own 24 hours a day. While still on the ventilator Owen lived the life of a normal baby, learning to roll, loving to swing, and lighting up everyone’s world with his smile. Off the ventilator, but still with a Trach and G-Tube, Owen has learned how to crawl and now walk, he loves eating out (he eats 60% of his food by mouth), and he even cheered his mother on as she finished the CHaD HERO Half Marathon in Fall of 2019 — fittingly he sported a full Superman outfit.
Owen and his dad at the 2019 CHaD HERO
Owen’s journey is not over, as having a Trach, G-tube and premature lungs puts him at serious risk for illness and regression, which he has battled this spring. Growing and eating are not easy for Owen and he has yet to speak his first words due to having a Trach, so development is slow and will continue to be a challenge throughout his early childhood. However, Owen continues to overcome each obstacle put in his way, and despite all of the challenges he continues to smile and remind us all that life is incredibly precious.
Owen and his parents
So Owen is a HERO, yes, he is idealized for his outstanding achievements, his amazing feats and warrior-like qualities. But, Owen also represents all CHaD HEROES; he overcomes and smiles through it all, not just for himself, but for his brothers, and all babies and children who have had to, are currently, or who will have to, fight for their lives.” — Jessica, Owen’s mom
Owen in his Superman shirt
Join Owen and his family in this year’s virtual CHaD HERO! You can run, walk, hike, bike, or choose your own Virtual Quest activity to support CHaD kids like Owen.
Visit www.chadhero.org to register.