Former Miracle Baby Helps Give NICU Slogan Then, Pays it Forward Now

Pin that reads "I believe in miracles"

Do you believe in miracles? Not the 1980 Winter Olympics’ “Miracle on Ice,” but the ones when you’re given a second chance…at life. At HCA Healthcare’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center (P/SL), they believe in miracles. And it’s all because of Chris Downs.

Downs, a now healthy 20-year-old, was at one time fighting for his young life at the Denver-based HCA Healthcare-affiliated hospital. Born at sister facility Rose Medical Center in 1995 with a rare birth defect called diaphragmatic hernia – a hole in the diaphragm that leads to abdominal organs in the chest, Baby Downs was given a 25 percent chance of survival.

He underwent lifesaving emergency surgery at Rose Medical, before being transferred to the children’s hospital at P/SL for advanced care. Downs, like many babies with this condition, had high blood pressure in the lungs that required post-operative Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a machine to work for the lungs.

Neonatologist Dr. Jeff Hanson, who still treats newborns at P/SL today, placed the baby on ECMO; then, with hopeful parents, played the waiting game. “The big question was whether he would survive after coming off the ECMO,” Dr. Hanson said. “The first 12 to 14 hours were critical.”

Thankfully, the Downs’ family were granted a miracle. After 11 days, Baby Downs, the first patient ever at P/SL to be treated using the ECMO machine, could breathe on his own and is now a healthy, happy and thriving college student at Colorado University-Boulder.

And for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at P/SL? Their slogan, thanks to the Downs’ family, is: “I Believe in Miracles.”

Watch the local news story here to meet the miracle baby and see how he’s paying it forward this summer.

Three young men stand in front of mountains holding two bikes and a Colorado University flag

Chris Downs (far right) pictured with fraternity brothers. 

The survival rate for babies with diaphragmatic hernia is now 75 to 80 percent. Visit here for more information on HCA Healthcare-affiliate Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at P/SL. 

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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