Kim Meagher from the Louisville-area town of Scottsburg, Ind., had no idea anything was unusual during her pregnancy with her third child. At her 36-week checkup, her doctor noticed her fluid was low, and she delivered her son that day via emergency C-section at a hospital in Seymour, Ind.
Bradley Owen, or “Bo,” weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Kim, who is a nurse, noticed right away that something was different about him. The doctor told her he suspected Bo had trisomy 21, which Kim knew was Down Syndrome. “What I first thought was going to be a tragedy has been an extreme blessing,” says Kim. “He has changed my whole family for the better.”
Bo was taken by ambulance to Riley Hospital for Children. Kim’s husband Brad joined the doctors on that first night as they assessed his son’s condition and determined his medical needs. 24 hours later, Kim begged to be discharged from the hospital and was able to join them at Riley. “Every need we had, there was somebody there to meet that need,” says Kim. “The nurses were unbelievable. And the doctors were always positive, but always honest too, which we appreciated.” The Meaghers were touched by the care Bo received from Riley physicians including Juan Acosta, M.D., Diane Lorant, M.D., and Michael Trautman, M.D., as well as NICU nurses including Deb Hutchinson, RN. “They were invested in Bo from day one!” says Kim.
Bo spent nearly eight weeks in the Riley Newborn Intensive Care Unit. He had trouble feeding, and doctors ultimately decided he needed a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) to deliver nutrition directly into his stomach. NICU Child Life Specialist Angela Brennecke stepped in to help Bo’s older sisters, 9-year-old Jaylyn and 5-year-old Madi, understand what was happening with their brother. She got the girls dolls through the Riley Cheer Guild, and suggested giving the dolls G-tubes just like Bo’s by putting beach ball caps into their cloth abdomens.
“Every need we had, there was somebody there to meet that need,” says Kim. “I will forever be grateful to each person who helped us.”
Bo will continue being seen by Riley specialists including developmental pediatricians, the Down syndrome specialist in the Riley Outpatient Center. Riley hematologists are also keeping an eye on a Down Syndrome-related blood disorder, transient myeloproliferative disorder (TMD), which fortunately appears to be diminishing from Bo’s system. Kim say the joy Bo has brought to their family far outweighs the challenges. His journey has already inspired his sisters to give back to Riley—they coordinated a book drive at their school for the Riley library.
“Bo is just the light of all our lives now,” Kim says. “I think he will do wonders for my daughters in terms of how they look at people and how they treat people. That is a blessing that I can’t even describe.”