Owen B A little jokester

Owen Beat All The Odds

Born prematurely at 24 weeks, Owen Benoit weighed 1.5 lbs. at birth. The tiny baby’s greatest challenge was his severely underdeveloped lungs. Their immaturity caused Owen to develop chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, which kept him on a ventilator.

After a stay at a pediatric intensive care unit, where he received a trach, Owen was admitted in November of 2013, at seven months, to Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Brunswick. Facing multiple challenges, Owen needed to become medically stable enough to go home. In addition, his family needed training in providing the extensive care Owen would need once home.

Owen made slow but steady process at Children’s. When he arrived, “He was medically so fragile, working so hard to breathe, that he could barely do anything else,” recalls his mother, Erin. “Owen could not tolerate being touched by his occupational and physical therapists. He could not sit up in bed.” Because of what he had been through, Owen was “very defensive orally, he could not accept anything in his mouth.” The baby’s speech therapists worked every day to help him accept the pacifier and bits of food. At this stage, Owen received nutrition mainly through a G-tube. As the months passed, Owen hit milestone after milestone. He allowed himself to be taken out of bed, he tolerated being on a mat, and finally, one day, he was fine with going into a stroller. A breakthrough occurred when Owen could be wheeled out of his room for therapies. Meanwhile, his parents were learning how to administer oxygen, and to operate the ventilator and emergency equipment.

nurse holding baby owen

The little boy’s fighting spirit paid off. In March of 2014, one month before his first birthday, Owen came home. “He thrived from then on!” says mom Erin. Today, Owen is a “typical three-year-old. He throws tantrums, he’s happy, energetic, a little jokester, and very smart.” Owen came off the ventilator in June of 2015, and his trach will be removed in early summer of 2016. “His lungs are doing well,” says Erin. “They just needed time to grow.”

Looking back at Owen’s stay at Children’s, Erin notes, “Everyone was there for us and for Owen, as if we were part of their family. Good days, bad days – they were with us for the good things and even the really hard times.”

“It was a long road – he was a very, very sick baby -- and now he’s doing wonderfully,” says this happy mom.