Just four months after being born, Gaetano already knows what it means to fight for his life. At birth, doctors discovered he had a right-side congenital diaphragmatic hernia and pulmonary hypertension, meaning the muscle separating his heart and lungs from the lower abdominal organs did not develop completely while he was in the womb. The condition caused his organs to move up into the pulmonary cavity and prevented his right lung from developing as well. Within hours of his birth, he was rushed over to Nicklaus Children's Hospital by LifeFlight, where doctors at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) immediately started working on stabilizing him, ultimately saving his life.
After a few weeks, Gaetano was ready to undergo surgery to repair his chest, an incredible success that allowed his right lung to grow. Surgery was only part of his long treatment at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, which lasted a little over three months. Finally, he was allowed to go back home to Ft. Myers with his family with very little medication and able to grow as a healthy, happy kid, thanks to Nicklaus Children's Hospital.