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For 4-year-old Kenley and 2-year-old Olivia, adding a baby brother to the family last November was a big deal. Just like their own baby dolls, aptly just named “baby,” baby Charlie is cute to look at and snuggly to cuddle up to.

But Kenley and Olivia didn’t get to give their baby brother all those big sister kisses and hugs they wanted to give right away. In fact, Charlie was over two weeks old before he got to meet his older siblings in person.  

Immediately after birth, nurses placed baby Charlie onto his mother, Megan, for skin-to-skin time. But this precious moment didn’t last long as Charlie turned purple because he wasn’t breathing.

“He was trying to cry but there was no sound,” remembers Megan. “They told me if he doesn’t improve within 30 minutes he is going to need to be transferred to children’s. I was freaking out.”

With the Hein family living in Celina, an hour and a half away from Dayton Children’s, the team at Mercer Health Coldwater worked to keep Charlie breathing until Dayton Children’s mobile intensive care unit arrived. Even then, the pediatric specialists from Dayton Children’s had to work on Charlie for over two hours before he was stable enough to be transported to the newborn intensive care unit in Dayton.

Once at Dayton Children’s, Charlie was diagnosed with a condition called tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF). This is when there is an abnormal connection between the esophagus and the trachea. It makes it difficult to both breathe and eat.

At just three days old, Charlie went in for surgery to correct the TEF.

“One moment I just thought he was under respiratory distress and the next moment I was being told he was going to need surgery,” says Megan. “I’d never even had surgery and now my newborn was going to. He was just so little… it was heartbreaking to me.”

Sean Barnett, MD, and Arturo Aranda, MD, pediatric surgeons at Dayton Children’s performed Charlie’s surgery to fix the defect.

While Charlie did great in the surgery, his parents weren’t able to hold him for another seven days due to the tubes helping him breathe and eat.

Living so far away and with two little girls, Megan and her husband Jake couldn’t be by Charlie’s bedside every minute of every day. They relied heavily on a special camera, called NICVIEW, located above Charlie’s bed to see how he was doing. This webcam device is a new feature in Dayton Children’s updated NICU space. It allows families to login on their own device at home to monitor how their baby is doing any time of day.

“I was always really comfortable leaving Charlie when I needed to because I knew he was in the best care possible. But NCVIEW provided me with an extra sense of comfort when I couldn’t be there. I basically had it up all the time when I wasn’t at the hospital,” says Megan.

Due to flu season visitor restrictions for siblings under the age of 12 in the NICU, Kenley and Olivia were not able to visit their baby brother. NICVIEW made it possible for them to see Charlie before he got to come home allowing them to start that long awaited bond.

After 16 days in the NICU, Charlie was discharged. He continues to see Dr. Barnett and ear, nose and throat specialist, Ankur Patel, MD, at Dayton Children’s for his existing condition called laryngomalacia. This condition can cause blockages of Charlie’s airway, especially when he eats, making it difficult to breathe. Megan and Jake have become experts in how to use a suctioning device to remove the blockage for Charlie when this happens. Dr. Patel believes this condition is something he will grow out of by the time he reaches his first birthday.

Back at home, Kenley and Olivia haven’t given up on their baby dolls just yet just because Charlie is there, but they love having their real baby brother with them wherever they go! Especially for all of those kisses and snuggles!

Dayton Children's commercial: Specialists in baby videos

Check out our latest commercial featuring the Hein family! 

what is NICVIEW?

This webcam system allows parents and family members to see their baby when they are away from the hospital.