Premature baby spends Christmas in the NICU as he fights to live

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Baby with her father in the NICU. Photo via John Waltrick.
Baby with her father in the NICU. Photo via John Waltrick.

John Walterick and the mother, Kayla McPhail, wait with their premature son in the hospital on Christmas, with hope he will survive.

“Until we get those test back, it’s just a big waiting game,” Walterick said.

“It’s kind of scary,” McPhail said. “I was hoping he would have to go through this, but we will make it.”

Parents Kayla and John are trying to make it through what might be a rare disease diagnosis for their son.

“Without the proper ventilation the baby can have seizures and strokes,” McPhail said.

So their bundle of joy is bundled in breathing tubes to keep him safe.

“If we can get them to avoid the feeding tube,” Walterick said, “we might build to get him home sooner.”

From what may be the same disease that confided his Mom to Lee Health’s newborn intensive care unit as a baby.

“I had a trach from when I was a newborn,” McPhail said when asked if she went through similar circumstances, “all the way up to eight years old.”

They are treasuring the moments, which are often taken for granted.

“Once a day we try holding him,” McPhail said. “Just takes a lot because of the therapist has to come in and move on the vent equipment.”

Moving mountains for their little boy because every moment is a gift.

“It’s hard not having him home for his first Christmas,” McPhail said. “But we got a bunch a little presents and we spent the morning opening them up with him.”

But opening up presents at home next year will be even better.

“That’s our hope,” Walterick said. “We want to get him home as soon as possible.”

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