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Big Improvements for Little TJ
Submitted by Chandra Robinson, mother of patient TJ

Little Rock, AR

My son Tommy Robinson, also known as TJ, was born April 12, 2006 at 25 weeks and weighing 1 pound, 7 ounces at Baptist Hospital in Little Rock, AR. His little body was the length of an adult's hand. My husband and I were immediately informed that it would require a lot to keep him alive. Ironically, my husband Thomas Robinson started working at ACH in February of 2006. I know this played a big part in preparing him for the journey we would take with TJ.

The initial concern was that TJ's lungs were not developed enough for him to breathe on his own. He required 100 percent oxygen on most days. We were informed that this could later impact his vision. The next issue for TJ was that he had bilateral grade IV head bleeds. This could lead to mental retardation. Then at only nine days old, one of the nurses noticed that his abdomen was green. An ultrasound was immediately done, and it was determined that TJ had perforations in his bowel wall also known as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). He was transferred to ACH to have drain tubs put it. This was our tiny son's first surgical procedure. This began his 3½-month stay at the ACH NICU.

Each day TJ's lungs were X-rayed, and an ultrasound was done on his abdomen. His second surgical procedure was for a CVL placement. Some days TJ would make a little progress and other days we would take big steps backward. It was quite a roller coaster ride. There were two occasions when we were informed that he was very sick and may not make it. On the first occasion, we were told that all that could be done to keep TJ alive was being done, and that my husband and I really needed to talk about the quality of life he would have. I recall my husband asking if TJ would ever be able to throw a ball. The doctor's response was that he didn't know. We were told that TJ may face mental disability, have vision and/or hearing issues and also possibly never be able to walk or talk. My husband and I talked about these things and prayed about them. We decided that we wanted the doctors and nurses to continue to do what they were doing to keep him alive.

TJ's second major sickness was when he had sepsis. I can vividly recall when we received the phone call that morning, we sensed something was wrong. When my husband and I arrived at ACH, Dr. El Hassan was at his side and remained there most of the day. There were so many nurses around him that we could not count all of them. My husband and I were not allowed to go in to see TJ while they were busily working on him. Dr. El Hassan and Dr. Lyle were our favorite doctors. Mary Jenkins was the best weekend nurse, and we also had the best weekday nurses, Sarah Baines Plath and Christina Tootle!

TJ steadily made progress. However, feedings were still a bit of an issue. We always prayed that there was little to no residual after each one. Finally TJ better tolerated feeds, gained enough weight and required a lot less oxygen to be discharged on July 25, 2006, which was his actual due date!

TJ is currently 6 years old, requires no oxygen, no glasses, is not hearing impaired, he walks, talks and can certainly throw a ball. We are so grateful for all that ACH has done and continues to do for TJ.