Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was the son of former United States President John F. Kennedy and his wife Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. He was alive for just over 39 hours before his infant death threw the then First Family and the whole nation into mourning. One major significance of his life and death at infancy centers around the awareness of Hyaline Membrane Disease (HMD) it created. Following his death, the condition came into the public domain and consciousness which in turn inspired lots of research work.
Biography Of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy
Patrick B. Kennedy was born on the 7th of August in 1963 and died 9th of August 1963. He was named after his grandfather Joseph Patrick Kennedy and his mother’s maiden name Bouvier. He was the younger brother to John Junior and Caroline who were aged 2 and a half and 5 respectively when he was born. He weighed about 2.11kg at birth and was the first child born to a sitting United States President and First Lady since the 19th century.
The day of his birth was quite significant for America and his father personally as it marked the 20 years anniversary that President Kennedy got rescued by the Navy after spending about five days stranded on a Pacific island.
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was delivered by an emergency cesarean section at the Otis Air Force Base Hospital in Massachusetts. He lived a short but significant life as the cause of his death would lead to extensive scientific research and breakthrough in neonatology, in turn, saving millions of infant lives.
Moreover, at that time of his death, neonatology (a branch of medicine that centers on the care, development, and disease of infants) was relatively new. Being a baby of the first family, his condition brought about an increase in public awareness which led to intense research and brought about copious developments and inventions of newborn intensive care practices, medical ventilators and blood gas test all over the United States and Europe.
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What Happened To Him?
Not long after his birth, Patrick started showing signs that he had difficulty breathing as his first cry was barely audible. He was placed in an incubator as he came at 34 weeks old (5 and half weeks early). James E. Drorbaught, a specialist paediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital was flown in to consult on his case. Dr. Drorbaught recommended that they transfer him to the hospital in Boston for precaution purposes. He was then diagnosed with Hyaline Membrane Disease (HMD) which is now referred to as Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome (IRDS).
The Doctor and his team stayed up the entire time trying all they could to save Patrick’s life. He was given hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) whereby he was placed in a hyperbaric chamber full of 100 percent oxygen and pressurized to greater than 1 atmosphere.
Despite the revolutionary measures taken by the hospital, Patrick died at 4.04 am on the 9th of August 1963. He lived for about 39 hours, 12 minutes. The then president and his brother Robert F. Kennedy were outside the hyperbaric chamber at the time of his death. His mother remained at Otis Air Force Base Hospital still recovering from the caesarean section. She was informed about her son’s death by Dr. John Walsh who was her personal obstetrician and was with her at the hospital.
On the 10th of August 1963, a small funeral was held in the private Chapel of Cardinal Richard Cushing in Boston. Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was initially buried at a cemetery in Brookline Massachusetts in his father’s home town. He was later re-interred with his late sister (Arabella) alongside their father at the National Cemetery Arlington on the 5th of December 1963.
John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy were seriously affected by the death of Patrick who would have been their last child. The president later signed into law a grant that authorized $2.1 billion in today’s value in dollars to be used for newborn research. The grant was sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NIHCD), an institution established by Kennedy and his sister Eunice Shriver.
Sadly, that same year seems to be a very tragic year for the Kennedys as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22nd 1963 which was 105 days after the death of Patrick B. Kennedy.