Alexander Huey went back home yesterday, not to family but with family; back home to the person and the place that helped save him nearly two decades ago.
Huey was born prematurely 18 years ago yesterday on December 22, 1997 at Bayview Hospital. He had fluid on his lungs and difficulty breathing.
He was taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) where he spent the first week of his life being nursed back to health.
Yesterday, the young adult, accompanied by his parents Geoffrey and Neysa Huey, made an emotional return to the place that helped keep him alive to meet the man who tended to him during those difficult days.
That man, Dr Clyde Cave, is now head of pediatrics and he welcomed the return of the child – now a student in upper sixth form at Combermere – who he held and cared for nearly 20 years ago. He showed Huey the exact spot he occupied during his stay at the hospital. And in that spot was a premature baby receiving care in an incubator.
Huey didn’t say much, but the passion was evident.
“I am very grateful and thankful for the people in here. It is because of the nurses and doctors that I am alive today. I thought it was a good idea to come back because these people give me a chance at life,” the 18-year-old said, his emotions pouring out.
The young man’s mother soaked up the moments but was just as emotional. While her young son was warded at the QEH, struggling to breathe, she was hospitalized at Bayview. Today, she recalled the tough time she had worrying about her baby who was battling for his life.
When she was able to visit, it was in a wheelchair. And when she couldn’t she kept in touch with the staff by phone.
“They answered our questions and you knew that they had the baby’s best interest at heart. We called if we couldn’t be here. We are just thrilled that the unit existed,” the mother said.
“It was very difficult, but at the same time we had confidence in Dr Cave. When you had questions they were very informative and didn’t try to blindfold you, it was all about the facts.”
That premature baby has grown into a healthy young man who maintains a very active lifestyle. He plays football, engages in horse riding, tests his skills on the cricket field, runs at times and enjoys sailing and surfing.
His gifted hands have also repaired many a vehicle at different garages.
Therefore, it’s no surprise to his parents that their miracle child is looking to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. He has just been accepted at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, in the United States and is awaiting responses from a few more to which he has applied.
For Dr Cave it was a pleasant experience. He thanked the family for the visit and the gifts they presented to the unit and gave them an update on what has been happening since Huey was a patient there. Dr Cave explained that approximately ten to 15 per cent of babies born at the QEH were born prematurely and that while benefactors have been generous in donating equipment for treating premature babies, there was currently a challenge training nursing staff to work in the 25-year-old unit.
“We have started the beginnings of a programme to look at training neonatal nurses for Barbados and we have had interest from the other islands. We are expecting four nurses from St Vincent to come in January to benefit from our experience here so that they can open a unit there,” Dr Cave said.