Rhys French is a beautiful 2 and a 1/2 year old boy, who is learning to live with Cerebral Palsy. He was born healthy but early at 29 weeks at 3lbs and 1oz. He developed pneumonia when his Pic line (IV line) that was inserted after his early birth to provide medication and nutrition went interstitial and flooded his lungs with fluid.
His lungs collapsed and it became necessary to intubate and vent him as he could not breathe on his own. Because he developed a latex allergy, each attempt at extubation (with the use of latex gloves) caused his trachea to swell shut and he sustained damage from forced intubations through the swelled trachea. Many of these failed attempts also resulted in CPR and resuscitation events which caused brain damage because he was without oxygen for extended periods of time. The brain damage he sustained caused his Cerebral Palsy.
Eventually, the hospital had to give him a tracheotomy to bypass the damage he sustained to his trachea from emergency intubations. He now breathes through the trach in his throat, and needs to be vented at night because his brain damage has caused sleep apnea. He has to be monitored by his nurses, parents and grandparents 24 hours a day due to his fragile condition.
The trach also means he must be suctioned frequently to keep his airway clear. Though he has had laser surgery to correct some of the damaged tissue in his throat, it will be many years if ever before the doctors will be able to consider removing the trach to allow him to breathe naturally.
Cerebral Palsy has caused Rhys to be unable to sit, stand, crawl, hold his head up or speak. His motor skills are very limited and he has little control over his limbs, though he tries very hard to grasp small objects and ribbons attached to his favorite toys: mylar balloons. He has auditory disynchrony which is a hearing disorder requiring the use of hearing aids and has frequent blue spells which is when he stops breathing until he becomes unconscious until his body can reset itself and begin breathing again. He cannot eat solid foods, but he has been able to learn to eat liquids from a bottle. He has a G-tube that allows him to receive some of his nutrition and medication directly to his stomach.
Throughout all of this, Rhys has always been a very happy and very aware little boy. His smiles and silent laughter light up the room and instantly melts anyone who sees them. He works very hard at his physio therapy and is attempting to learn sign language to overcome the communication barrier. We are so incredibly proud of him. He is a fighter who has overcome 8 resuscitation events, numerous surgeries and many illnesses. He is a very determined little man who I am certain will one day make great strides toward independence.