Jonesboro Baby Returns Home After Three Months in Philadelphia Hospital

FEBRUARY 12, 2004 -- Posted at: 11:55pm

JONESBORO, AR - Doctors at one of the nations top children's hospital said at one point this fall, he was the sickest baby in America. After three month of intensive care, Cole Buhrmester is back home.

"Most of our issues now are just being preemie," said Stefanie Buhrmester, Cole's mother.

Doctors discovered Cole had a condition nicknamed C-CAT before he was born. A cyst fills with fluid, and pushes a baby's heart and many other organs from the left side to the right.

Stefanie recalled, "It was at work, and the phone rang, it was San Francisco Children's Hospital, and they said if you want your son to live, you need to leave today."

At another hospital specializing in the condition, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a surgery performed while he was in the uterus, and another right after he was born corrected the problem, but Cole's blood pressure wouldn't stabilize. Doctors finally tried using an adult blood pressure medication.

"They said that was our last chance," explained Stefanie.

Ray, Cole's father and Stefanie's husband, is a Jonesboro Police detective. To help with the expenses back in Philadelphia, coworkers and friends barbecued beef to sell to the public, and held a benefit concert where Ray got to sing.

"We couldn't have done it without their help. We're really grateful," said Stefanie.

In Pennsylvania, a restrictive ventilator prevented Stefanie and Ray from holding Cole. They finally got to cradle him around the 20th of December, a month and a half after being born.

Stefanie added laughing, "My husband said I got a lump of Cole for Christmas."

Cole finally came home Monday; hopefully for good.

"All the people there," Stefanie paused to hold back tears, "We just owe them a lot. I knew they were doing what was best for him."

Sitting next to her mother, Cali said of Cole's return home, "It's kind of good, because I like holding him, I'm like, when can I hold him."

"They have this saying, they're on 34th Street there, and they say we make miracles on 34th street," Stefanie explained.

Cole is on a low amount of oxygen and must be fed part of the time through a feeding tube inserted through his nose. Ray and Stefanie Buhrmester aren't sure when he will be taken off of oxygen. Doctors said it will likely be when he's gained enough weight and is strong enough to eat and breath at the same time on his own. A CAT scan will have to be done when he's a year old to make sure everything has healed.