We’ve all heard mothers say their child is one-of-a-kind, but there are few who can lay truth to the claim. Nicole Marshall is one of them. Her four-year-old son Braxton isn’t a prodigy; in fact he can’t walk or talk. But in many ways he is a miracle child.
Braxton was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality, the only one of its kind in the United States. He’s a patient population of one. During her pregnancy, Nicole saw half a dozen doctors, had numerous ultrasounds and no warning signs. It wasn’t until her delivery that doctors in Daytona Beach noticed something was wrong, and the Marshalls’ open-ended journey would begin.
Making the Move
In Port Orange, where the Marshalls live, there is not a pediatric facility equipped to deal with Braxton’s medical and developmental complexities.
When three separate respiratory infections in March left him on the brink of death, Nicole and her husband Ryan knew that Florida Hospital for Children was the only place they could turn.
Raleigh Thompson, MD, and his team rushed to insert a chest tube to help Braxton breathe when his vitals crashed. They stabilized him, placed him on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) to work as his heart and lungs and waited 12 days as he struggled to survive. Eventually, under the most bleak circumstances and in the rarest of bodies, Braxton recovered.
“Braxton would not be alive had we gone anywhere else,” Nicole says. “I trusted everyone and knew he was going to get the best care possible.”
In less experienced hospitals with fewer resources, Braxton may never have gotten the lifesaving treatment he deserved.
“I’m not sure Braxton would have received ECMO anywhere else. Sometimes hospitals can’t or don’t take the chance,” Dr. Thompson says. “He’s always going to need someone to take care of him, but he experiences joy and happiness and pain. He’s important to his parents. We take a very serious stance on our role to preserve life and help children and their families.”