A Rocky Start

Katie Jo - blog

Katie Jo Shuman pitches for her school’s softball team, and loves basketball and soccer. She also has an artistic, entrepreneurial streak: One of her hobbies is designing and selling jewelry for good causes.

But just a few hours after her birth in 1999, she was fighting for her life. She had inhaled a potent mixture of meconium and amniotic fluid in utero, and doctors and nurses at Packard Children’s were trying desperately to get the sticky fecal material out of her lungs.

As the situation worsened, a physician approached Beth and Bob Shuman to see if they could use an experimental drug to help Katie Jo break down and expel the tar-like substance. The anxious parents quickly agreed, and their struggling daughter received the new medication—which quickly turned her dire circumstances around.

“Katie Jo truly is the joy of our lives,” says Beth. “She was our last gasp at having a child. We wouldn’t even have this life but for the fact that they brought her back from the edge of that cliff.”

Katie Jo spent 13 days in Packard’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, during which time staff and nurses “became family,” Beth recalls. “We didn’t realize until later how they got us through it. The kind of work they do is mind boggling, and the fact that it was a teaching hospital, in those circumstances, was a huge plus.”


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