One hundred forty-two. That’s the number of days Colt Duckworth spent in the neonatal intensive care unit at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Child Health | one month ago

After Months in the NICU, Baby Colt is Breathing More Easily at Home

Born as a preemie with lung disease, Colt Duckworth spent his first 5 months of life in the NICU at Levine Children's Hospital. As he transitions to life at home, the Duckworths are learning how to live a normal life under extra care. 

One hundred forty-two. That’s the number of days Colt Duckworth spent in the neonatal intensive care unit at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Colt was born in December of 2017 – nearly 2 months early. Right away, Colt’s doctors diagnosed him with tracheomalacia, a condition that causes the windpipe to collapse. Colt also had other complications that ran all the way from his nose to his esophagus to even his stomach. And while his lungs were healthy, Colt’s combined issues made it hard to breathe.

Complex as Colt’s condition was, his doctors at LCH knew he had one best chance for a normal life. “The best way to fix him was to do what’s called a tracheostomy, which would just put a permanent airway in his windpipe and allow him to grow,” says Matthew Saxonhouse, MD, a neonatologist at Levine Children’s.

A big improvement, right away

Over their time in the NICU, the Duckworths say Levine Children’s Hospital became a home away from home – a place where their baby wasn’t just treated like a patient, but like family. “It’s a scary place to be, but they made it as easy and welcoming as possible for us,” says Emily. “We couldn’t have picked a better hospital, that’s for sure.”

Colt received his tracheostomy when he was just 8 weeks old – almost immediately, the Duckworths noticed a difference in their baby boy. “We could tell that he was breathing better right away,” says Cameron Duckworth, Colt’s dad.

Colt recovered well from his surgery. And after 142 days, he was finally able to go home.

Home sweet home

Today, Colt is home with his family, and they’re learning about their new life together.

Colt is breathing better and is a much happier baby boy, but he still needs extra care. For Emily and Cameron, things like suctioning, feeding tubes and tracheostomy tubes have become the new normal.

There are still challenges to overcome, but the Duckworths have peace of mind – because they aren’t facing them alone. In addition to the continued support from his family and care team at Levine Children’s Hospital, Colt qualified to participate in Champions for Lung Disease. This new outpatient program provides long-term care for children with chronic lung disease and their families.

Eventually, as Colt grows and everything heals, Dr. Saxonhouse says his tracheostomy can be removed. But for now, the Duckworths are just grateful to have their baby right where he is. “It’s just good to have him home,” says Emily. “We breathe easier knowing he’s right there with us.”


Read more about Colt's story.