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North Dakota baby returns home after near-death battle with COVID-19

Thomas Goedeck IV nearly died in September as the effects of COVID-19 shut off his ability to breathe on his own. But after more than six weeks of intensive medical care at three different hospitals, his health is almost back to normal.

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Thomas Goedeck IV, a 2-month-old baby from Watford City, North Dakota, is pictured in a shirt that reads "My first Halloween" shortly after being discharged from the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, where he survived severe complications of COVID-19. Photo provided

WATFORD CITY, N.D. — In the first three months of his life, little Thomas Goedeck IV has survived COVID-19, pneumonia, a collapsed lung, two air ambulance rides and a lengthy stint on a ventilator in a faraway hospital. And now, he's home.

The 10-week-old infant returned to Watford City with his parents on Oct. 17 after more than a month at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Thomas nearly died in September as the effects of COVID-19 shut off his ability to breathe, Forum News Service previously reported . But after more than six weeks of intensive medical care at three different hospitals, Thomas' health is almost back to normal, said Gabby Glazer, his 21-year-old mother.

“I don’t even know how he survived," Glazer said. "He’s just honestly a strong, strong baby. He’s got a strong will.”

Thomas' road to recovery after doctors and nurses stabilized him wasn't perfectly smooth.

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Glazer, who slept on a sofa bed in her son's hospital room for nearly a month, recalls several scares as medical staff tried to wean the baby off of the ventilator helping him breathe. At one point, Thomas' platelet levels dropped and his condition worsened after doctors removed a tube that had delivered supplemental oxygen through his nose, but eventually the baby was able to breathe without artificial assistance, Glazer said.

Once the hospital discharged Thomas, driving the 600 miles from Minneapolis to Watford City without nurses looking after the baby was terrifying, Glazer said. At the end of the two-day journey, Glazer was happy to be back on familiar ground.

“When we walked in the door, I was kind of in shock," Glazer said. "I couldn’t believe we were finally home after the roller coaster we had in the hospital."

Thomas' immune system is still compromised, so he can't be outside much for the next month, but that's fine with Glazer who only enjoyed six days at home with her child before she had to rush him to the hospital on Sept. 3.

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Thomas Goedeck IV breathes with the help of a ventilator in a hospital bed at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital in Minneapolis on Sept. 22, 2021. The then-6-week-old baby from Watford City, North Dakota, barely survived a severe case of COVID-19. Photo provided

Glazer credits her boyfriend, her dad and the Watford City community with helping her persevere through the enormous stress of almost losing her child. The first-time mother said she frequently received calls at the hospital from locals she didn't even know, and her old workplace, The Corner Post gas station, set up a donation box for the family. Members of her church, Watford City Assembly of God, regularly asked Glazer for updates on Thomas' condition and helped fund her trip out to Minneapolis in the first place.

The bill for the acute medical care Thomas received is likely to come out to hundreds of thousands of dollars, and collectors have just started calling, Glazer said. She hopes Medicaid will cover most of the expenses, but she worries the costs will hamstring her young family financially. She recently set up a GoFundMe online fundraiser for Thomas' medical expenses and hopes North Dakotans will consider donating.

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After the nearly fatal ordeal, Glazer said she wants her son to have a normal childhood. She looks forward to introducing Thomas to her Florida-based family and taking some cute Halloween photos featuring her son and her dog, Spot.

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Thomas Goedeck IV, a 2-month-old baby from Watford City, North Dakota, is pictured with dog Spot after arriving home from a Minneapolis hospital. Photo provided

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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