All the medical odds seemed to be against Katelin Grover who weighed just one pound and ten ounces at birth. But James DeBoard, M.D., pediatric anesthesiologist at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, changed her fate by saving her life. Now, 26 years later, Katelin got the chance to say thank you to her hero.
Katelin was born three and a half months early at Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, Mo, where Dr. DeBoard was the director of Anesthesia. Although he cared almost entirely for adult patients, Dr. DeBoard happened to be in the right place at the right time on Feb. 1, 1983.
Dr. DeBoard recalls the day Katelin stopped breathing. Every minute, even second, counted as her life was on the line. Dr. DeBoard quickly intubated Katelin with a small tube to protect her airway. With her tiny body covered in plastic wrap to maintain warmth, Katelin was soon transported by ambulance to the University of Missouri Hospital in Columbia. She stayed there for over three months, developing into a healthy baby. Doctors told her parents that without Dr. DeBoard’s prompt response, Katelin could have had permanent brain damage or possibly not even survived.
“I just cannot imagine what my life would be like without Dr. DeBoard doing what he did for me,” said Katelin.
As a result of the gratifying experience he had caring for Katelin and a few other tiny babies, Dr. DeBoard transitioned into a fellowship in pediatric anesthesiology and ultimately had the opportunity to come to SSM Cardinal Glennon, where he has now worked for more than 21 years.
“I feel very much at home at Cardinal Glennon with the values shared by the doctors and nurses,” said Dr. DeBoard. “Taking care of babies is such a great opportunity.”
Dr. DeBoard was deeply humbled to meet Katelin and remembers well the day she was born.
“I don’t often get to hear the other end of the story,” said Dr. DeBoard. “This is the first time one of my patients has come back to say ‘hi.’”
Katelin works in Infomatics for Pfizer pharmaceutical company in St. Louis. As it turns out, she and Dr. DeBoard live down the street from each other.
“Fate came and brought us back together,” Katelin said.