CADYVILLE - When Marcus Walker was born, his mother, Amie Alexander, knew he would have health problems.
"I was only four months pregnant, and [the doctors] noticed something was wrong," said Alexander, who was referred downstate for further examination at the time.
Eventually, Marcus was born four weeks premature with a condition known as gastroschisis, a congenital defect which caused portions of his intestines to form outside his body. Weighing only 4 pounds, 13 ounces, and measuring 17 inches long, Marcus' mother worried for the health of her baby.
"He was born and rushed right up to the [neonatal intensive care unit]," she said.
Marcus underwent five surgeries as a newborn to correct his condition, spending his first three and a half months of life intubated on a ventilator. During that time, Marcus was just shy of two weeks old when doctors found a fistula - an abnormal connection in his intestines - which leaked stool into his abdominal cavity. He underwent surgery to correct that problem, but ended up necrotizing enterocolitis, which resulted in the death of the majority of Marcus' bowel tissue - leaving him with 10 inches of intestine. Marcus lost the necessary part of his midsection that absorbs nutrients from food, affecting his digestive system.
When he was 3 months old, Marcus underwent nissen fundoplication, a surgical procedure to stop the severe gastroesophageal reflux disease he developed. Not catching a break at that time either, Marcus became sick again and was intubated for another 45 days. As a result of severe scarring that developed, he was given a tracheotomy. He was later transferred to Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., where his condition started to improve enough to come home to the North Country for the first time last November.
"He was 8 and a half months old before he came home," said Alexander.