BRANDON – Former Brandon resident Candice Seward of Land O’ Lakes gave birth Jan. 7 to two strapping boys: Colton Robert Baron, 8 pounds 4 ounces, and his brother, Camden Robert Baron, 7 pounds 3 ounces.
Two days later, Colton went limp in her arms and stopped breathing as Seward waited to be discharged from Florida Hospital.
“It’s a miracle we hadn’t left the hospital,” she said.
She knows infant CPR and tried unsuccessfully to revive him. Nurses ran in and rushed him to the neonatal intensive care unit.
Colton was diagnosed with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare group of disorders in which the body produces too much insulin, causing frequent low blood sugar episodes which can lead to brain damage and death. This condition affects roughly 1 in 50,000 children.
Medical staff stabilized Colton by keeping his blood sugar levels up intravenously so he suffered no harm to his brain, said Colton’s paternal grandmother, the Rev. Susan Skinner Lewis of Brandon, a former associate pastor at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church.
However, that was only a temporary fix, so Colton, his mother and twin brother were transported Jan. 31 by air ambulance to the Congenital Hyperinsulinism Center at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, one of the few places worldwide that specialize in identifying various types of hyperinsulinism and performing corrective surgery.
Colton’s 3-year-old sister, Chloe Baron, and their maternal grandmother, Stephanie Cothron of Land O’Lakes, followed by commercial jet.
The children’s father, Jonathan Baron, who grew up in Brandon, had to stay behind. He recently was promoted to executive chef at Ciao! Italian Bistro in Wesley Chapel and cannot afford to take time off to be with his family. Their income dropped when Seward had to stop working to take care of their sick baby.
Seward, 25, and Baron, 30, talk every day.
“It’s like an emotional rollercoaster,” she said. “Jonathan’s my rock, but it’s killing him to be separated from the family.”
The unexpected, mounting expenditures are causing hardship, too.
“Mom and babies are on Medicaid, and we’re not sure if they’re going to cover all the care Colton needs,” said Lewis.
To help with their expenses, Lewis started a fundraising page for Colton where anyone may contribute.
It already generated enough money to get Colton to Pennsylvania for his lifesaving treatment, but the family also is responsible for out-of-pocket medical charges, lodging, rental car, meals, winter clothing for their six-week stay in Philadelphia and transportation home.
“It’s overwhelming,” said Seward. “I have my moments. I’ll cry in privacy and then compose myself and get back to it. Going in the NICU and watching them poking and prodding at him – I’ve seen too much. … Having the funds, the support and prayers helps out a lot. I’m so amazed every time I look at Colton’s Go Fund Me site. Without it, we’d be stuck right now.”
Contact freelance writer Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.