Pace Proves to Be a Fighter

“He came out a fighter—a determined little guy full of personality and with the most engaging eyes looking all around the room.”

Pace meeting his new baby brother in 2013

Pace meeting his new baby brother in 2013

Keri Tonn vividly remembers her first glimpses of her newborn son, Pace, as if it were yesterday. Although Pace is now a thriving 4-year-old, the circumstances surrounding his entrance into the world were less than ideal—yet memorable all the same.

At 18 gestational weeks, Keri and her husband, David, were thrilled to get the news that they were expecting a boy. A few days later, Keri found herself on the Antepartum Unit inside the Margot Perot Center for Women and Infants at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. There she would remain on and off for the next 10 weeks, closely monitored by a medical team of Dr. Brian Rinehart, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at North Texas Perinatal Associates and medical director of the Maternal High Risk Program at Texas Health Dallas. Also monitoring her was her obstetrician, Dr. Julie Hagood, of Walnut Hill OB/GYN Associates. Together the medical team was dedicated to helping Keri sustain a pregnancy and receive the bed rest necessary to combat early signs of preeclampsia, including high blood pressure.

Early Delivery, Timely Care

Keri and Pace

When Keri’s preeclampsia began to spiral out of control at 28 weeks, it was time for delivery. Baby Pace was born at 2:54 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2009, weighing in at a mere 2 pounds, 12 ounces.

Keri was discharged from the Postpartum Unit four days later, on her birthday, but Pace faced a seven-month stay in the hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He required ventilator care, blood transfusions and several surgeries. During a PDA ligation procedure to correct his congenital heart defect, the NICU was actually turned into a mini-surgical suite so that Pace wouldn’t experience any possible trauma from being moved. Slowly but surely, Pace made progress and came to be deemed a “miracle and inspiration” by Dr. Rinehart.

Despite the many obstacles, Keri and David knew that their family was getting the best support possible in a place designed for high-priority care of moms and preemies.

“When Pace was born, Mary Collins was my labor and delivery nurse,” Keri said. “She was meant to be with me. I just know it. When you meet someone at midnight, just after you learn your baby is going to be delivered three months early, and you need someone to keep it together for you and your husband, you hope and pray you have someone like Mary. It was extra-special that she was again present in the delivery room when we welcomed our second son.”

Bonds That Matter

Keri also recalled the “forever connection” she made with NICU nurse Daisy Thomas, who helped her overcome her early hesitancy to visit Pace in the NICU for fear of receiving bad news.

“She took the time to explain everything to me in a way that was calm, caring and real. After I met Daisy, I knew I could do it. When we’d leave at night, we would always look up to the third floor of the NICU and see Daisy tending to Pace.”

“I recommend Texas Health Dallas to my friends because the physicians who have privileges at the hospital are skilled and compassionate. The nurses, therapists and staff are well trained and caring. The facilities and equipment are state of the art. And most importantly, this is our hospital for all stages of our lives,” Keri added.

Physicians on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.

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