'He's a miracle'

— Pre­ston Ed­ward Bo­stick, who weighed only 2 pounds, 10 ounces at birth, de­veloped an in­fec­tion in his in­test­ines that nearly claimed his life. But doc­tors, love from his fam­ily and pray­ers pulled him through.

Pre­ston Ed­ward Bo­stick went home from the hos­pit­al last week for the first time since be­ing born last Oct. 31. He over­came nec­rot­iz­ing en­tero­colit­is, which is a po­ten­tially fatal gastrointest­in­al dis­ease. His mom Prin­cess Bo­stick and grand­mom Leah Bo­stick spent every day with him at St. Chris­toph­er’s Hos­pit­al for Chil­dren. (Tom War­ing)


Prin­cess Bo­stick was hav­ing a nor­mal preg­nancy un­til last Oct. 31, when she felt some light pres­sure in her stom­ach area.

At the time, Bo­stick was 28 weeks preg­nant. She was about to get a Hal­loween sur­prise.

The “light pres­sure” turned out to be real. Doc­tors at Al­bert Ein­stein Med­ic­al Cen­ter sched­uled an emer­gency Caesarean sec­tion.

“There were no signs he was com­ing early. Everything seemed nor­mal,” she said.

Pre­ston Ed­ward Bo­stick weighed 2 pounds, 10 ounces at birth, and the plan was for him to re­main at Ein­stein to get strong enough to go home with his moth­er and grand­moth­er, who live on the 6100 block of He­ger­man St. in Wissi­nom­ing.

By Nov. 11, though, Pre­ston was suf­fer­ing ab­dom­in­al pain and was trans­ferred to St. Chris­toph­er’s Hos­pit­al for Chil­dren.

There, the boy was dia­gnosed with nec­rot­iz­ing en­tero­colit­is, a po­ten­tially fatal dis­ease.

“I didn’t want to be­lieve it,” said his moth­er, who im­me­di­ately began Googling the dis­ease and now knows quite a bit about it.

The new moth­er dis­covered that nec­rot­iz­ing en­tero­colit­is is a gastrointest­in­al dis­ease that at­tacks pre­ma­ture ba­bies with­in the first two weeks of life. It’s char­ac­ter­ized by in­fec­tion and in­flam­ma­tion that cause de­struc­tion of a por­tion or all of the bowel.

• • •

The dis­ease af­fects 1 in 2,000 to 4,000 neonat­al in­tens­ive care unit ad­mis­sions and can be treated with an­ti­bi­ot­ics in some cases and sur­gery in more ser­i­ous ones. It’s the most com­mon and ser­i­ous gastrointest­in­al dis­order among hos­pit­al­ized pre­term in­fants and par­tic­u­larly im­pacts ba­bies weigh­ing less than 3 pounds, 5 ounces.

Pre­ston en­dured three sur­ger­ies on his in­test­ines and an up­per-body pro­ced­ure, but also re­ceived ex­pert med­ic­al care, plenty of pray­er and con­stant love and at­ten­tion from his moth­er and grand­moth­er. Today, he is home and faces a bright fu­ture.

“He’s a mir­acle,” said his moth­er, 24.

After a couple of days in a trans­ition room at St. Chris­toph­er’s, Pre­ston went home on May 30, weigh­ing 15 pounds, 2 ounces.

An elec­tric Christ­mas star stayed lighted on a wall at his home, be­gin­ning on Dec. 1.

“I said it would burn un­til Pre­ston was re­leased,” said his grand­moth­er, Leah Bo­stick. “Noth­ing tops this.”

The in­fant is the first grand­son for Leah Bo­stick, who has five grand­daugh­ters, and she is ex­pect­ing him to con­tin­ue to make im­prove­ments by leaps and bounds.

“He’s go­ing to get cer­eal be­fore June is out,” she said, adding that he’ll also taste mashed pota­toes and gravy “soon.”

Pre­ston, who now weighs 17 pounds, will re­ceive 12 hours of nurs­ing care every day, as long as he needs it.

The baby will also re­ceive 24 hours of lov­ing care from his mom and grand­mom. Prin­cess Bo­stick was laid off last sum­mer from her job in be­ne­fits ad­min­is­tra­tion and hopes to re­turn to school. Leah Bo­stick, who has ex­per­i­ence in real es­tate and as a wait­ress and per­son­al care as­sist­ant, is look­ing for work.

• • •

With the worst over for Pre­ston, his mom and grand­mom can re­lax more, now that he is home and not in the NICU.

“The anxi­ety and stress were un­bear­able,” his moth­er said. “Sur­gery days were rough. I was pa­cing the floor.”

The wo­men cred­it the St. Chris­toph­er’s staff for of­fer­ing med­ic­al care for Pre­ston and emo­tion­al sup­port for them. Dr. Gri­er Ar­thur was the at­tend­ing pe­di­at­ric sur­geon.

“He’s the man,” Leah Bo­stick said.

The sur­ger­ies were a suc­cess, in­clud­ing pro­ced­ures that re­moved the baby’s colon, fixed a hole in his bowel and saved much of his small in­test­ines, des­pite ex­tens­ive in­flam­ma­tion. 

Pre­ston was taken off a breath­ing tube on Feb. 12, and his grand­moth­er cel­eb­rated in a big way.

“I drank a whole bottle of wine,” she said.

The Bo­sticks also cred­it Dr. Endla An­day, clin­ic­al dir­ect­or of neonat­al ser­vices at St. Chris­toph­er’s, along with nurses, for sav­ing Pre­ston’s life. The ladies spent so much time at St. Chris­toph­er’s that they be­came friends with se­cur­ity guards and cafet­er­ia work­ers, and some hos­pit­al staff and vis­it­ors thought they worked there.

Pre­ston’s long stay was ne­ces­sary, ac­cord­ing to his doc­tors.

“He worsened over the course of five or six days. I didn’t think he would sur­vive, and I told his mom that,” Ar­thur said of a Nov. 25 ex­am­in­a­tion of the boy.

Ar­thur said Pre­ston must avoid in­fec­tion. He’s hop­ing the young­ster can trans­ition off in­tra­ven­ous nu­tri­tion in the next few months.

An­day de­scribed Pre­ston as “acutely ill” when she first saw him. She com­ple­men­ted his sur­ger­ies by get­ting oxy­gen to his lungs and blood. Once the lungs and air­way were clear, he was able to be taken off the vent­il­at­or, which the doc­tor said is “ninety per­cent of the battle, from our per­spect­ive.”

• • •

Go­ing for­ward, Pre­ston will need to avoid res­pir­at­ory tract in­fec­tions, ac­cord­ing to An­day. She be­lieves he’ll be­ne­fit by be­ing with his mom and grand­mom in a nur­tur­ing, pos­it­ive en­vir­on­ment.

“He’s ob­vi­ously very much loved,” she said.

Leah and Prin­cess Bo­stick rent a home owned by a re­l­at­ive of the Sales fam­ily, of Park­wood. Mike and Fran Sales were par­ents of triplet boys born in May 2010. One of the boys, Jac­ob, de­veloped nec­rot­iz­ing en­tero­colit­is and died of the dis­ease.

In April, as Pre­ston con­tin­ued his re­cov­ery, his mom and grand­mom at­ten­ded a be­ne­fit in memory of Jac­ob Sales. The Sales fam­ily has formed a char­ity to raise money for NEC re­search and NICU needs at St. Chris­toph­er’s.

The Bo­stick wo­men want to do their part to com­bat NEC.

“I want to get way more in­volved in terms of pre­ven­tion,” Prin­cess said.

Leah Bo­stick has formed the Rain­bow of Hope sup­port group for par­ents of kids with gastrointest­in­al dis­orders. The first meet­ing is sched­uled for June 20 at St. Chris­toph­er’s, and the group will have wide-ran­ging goals.

“If par­ents need lunch, we’ll give them lunch,” Leah said. “If they need a hug, we’ll give them a hug. If they need us to hold their hand, we’ll hold their hand. And if they want to talk, we’ll listen to them.” ••


You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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