OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 News) – It’s been quite a journey for the ‘cruise ship baby,’ Haiden Morgan. After spending months in a Florida hospital he’s finally back home in Ogden with his family.
“It’s hard to put into words that we’re kinda coming to the end of the road, and he’s actually coming home. So, it is a very surreal feeling,” says Haiden’s father Chase Morgan.
A little before 8PM, Haiden Morgan touched down at the CBJet Center at the Ogden Airport. And just like that his journey home was getting just a little bit closer. Family and friends gathered early and lined up to greet the new member of their family. Holding signs saying “Welcome home, Haiden,” and balloons in the shape of a birthday cake.
But let’s rewind real quick to September, 2015. Haiden’s parents Emily and Chase, along with his big sister Chloe were on family vacation aboard a cruise ship. Obviously, Haiden wanted to join in on the fun as Emily went into labor. Haiden arriving on September 2nd, way ahead of his December 19th due date, weighing only 1lb, 6oz.
In the middle of the ocean far away from a hospital his family never lost hope for his survival calling their little man a fighter.
“There was a 10% chance that he would make it and so he has definitely exceeded those expectations,” says his mother Emily. “He’s actually a lot further than they thought he is. He started taking bottles a number of weeks ago and his breathing has been on very low setting, and so he’s surpassed the expectations.”
As a baby that has only been alive for 78 days his mother and father say he’s been an inspiration to them. They laugh and joke that he’s starting to rack up those frequent flyer miles as he’s been on 2 planes and a cruise ship all within the first 100 days of his life.
As I spoke to the family, I asked them why not name him something like “Ocean or Poseidon,” to which his mother replied.
“Everyone kept saying that we should name him cruise, and we were like, ‘You know he’s gonna know the story his whole life, we’ll just keep it what we had planned and he’ll have a constant reminder of being born on a cruise ship.”
Now happy, the family says it put a strain on them financially, but they try to not think of the cost, only thinking about getting Haiden home with his family. Haiden spent the past few months in a Florida hospital, his mom and dad living out of a hotel. As the weeks came and went, dad and mom had to alternate between Utah and Florida. His sister Chloe, began to worry and they feared it would begin to cause problems for the family.
“That was our concern that being in Florida she kept saying that mommy and daddy were lost and that she needed to get on a helicopter and airplane to find us. So, we knew for her that it was going to start causing problems if we didn’t figure out a way to get him home to be closer. Having me gone was not going to last any longer and him [Chase] coming home still wasn’t going to help out, ’cause he had to go back to work. So, he couldn’t take her so my parents still had to keep her. So, it had to be both of us home,” said Emily.
That’s when the University of Utah and Airmed stepped in to help the Morgans. A lot of the crew who helped with Haiden’s return had been following his story from the beginning and donated their time to make sure he was home for the holidays with his family.
“It’s a Utah family. It is not something that very many people can do. We’re the only program in the state that can do it. So, we just felt that it was important for us to step up and be there,” said Colleen Connelly, Nursing Director for the University of Utah Healthcare.
The team left Utah Friday morning for Florida and returned with him Saturday night, making two stops along the way to refuel, but from the beginning they knew the trip to get Haiden home would be tough. But, the team knew they had to help as they are one of the few transport teams in the country capable of transporting cross country and the only program in the state capable of handling such a task.
“So, Haiden is being transported in a little isolette, it’s amazing the equipment you need to have for a 4 lb. baby. The isolette and the stretcher are over 150 pounds and the amount of equipment to make sure he stays safe in transport. This was definitely a challenge for us, the pilots had to get the approach plans in to the Miami airport, they had to figure out how far they had to stop and refuel twice both on the way there and on the way back, and figuring out those different airports. The transportation, because the isolette is on the stretcher and the stretcher then goes in the ambulance, we needed an ambulance to pick up the isolette and the stretcher to take the team to the hospital and then back again. So, trying to sort that all out. It’s been a lot of logistics. You see a small portion of the team here but there’s a lot of people calling and coordinating,” said Connelly.
The team had originally planned to pick Haiden up Tuesday but the weather further delayed their plans. Even so, they’re happy to have been able to help the Morgans and say Haiden will always be apart of their family.
“He is definitely one of us from here on out. I think all of us have adopted him and he’ll always be apart of our family,” says Connelly, “We’ll check on him and see how he’s doing.”
His family, can’t express their gratitude enough for all the help and support from people all over the world, and the gracious work by the team that brought their little boy home.
“To bring out family home for the holiday, it will be something that we’ll never be able to repay them for,” says Emily, “But, just the love, there’s no amount of appreciation that we can give. Just thank you for what they did for us.”
Haiden will now be evaluated at McKay-Dee Hospital until doctors can determine when he is able to go home. Some of the challenges are making sure he can adjust to the elevation differences and that his Oxygen levels remain stable. He also needs to improve his food intake. Doctors in Florida didn’t believe Haiden would even be able to leave Florida until the first of December, but he’s home in Utah already proving that he is a fighter.