Patrick Bouvier Kennedy

Patrick Bouvier Kennedy (August 7–9, 1963), the child of President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, was born prematurely at 34.5 weeks and 2100 grams. She had previously had a miscarriage and a stillbirth followed by the births of two healthy children, Caroline and John Jr. in 1957 and 1960 respectively. Her most recent child, John Jr., was also born prematurely. In her third semester, she was spending the summer in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, when she when into labor while she was on an outing with the children. She was transported by helicopter to Otis Air Force Base.

The baby was born by emergency C-Section at 12:52 PM on August 7, 1963 at the air force hospital. Shortly after birth, he developed symptoms of respiratory distress syndrome (RDS, then known as hyaline membrane disease*). The baby visited his mother in an incubator and then was transported by ambulance to Boston CHildren's Hospital. in 1963, RDS was still poorly understood, although lack of surfactant had been fingered as the cause of the cause of the atelectasis of the lungs in 1959, and commercial infant ventilators did not yet exist. The baby was treated with IVs and hyperbaric oxygen, to no avail.

Patrick expired at 4:04 AM on August 9, 1963. He had survived only 39 hours and 12 minutes after birth.

The sad death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy focused new attention on respiratory distress syndrome and led to an increase in research about the disease, technological developments including infant ventilators and blood gas tests on tiny blood samples, and improvements in neonatal care practices here and in Europe. Today, with the aid of modern infant ventilators, intravenous fluids, medications, surfactant replacement, modern care practices, and improved care of mothers in premature labor, the treatment of infants with respiratory distress systems at 34 weeks and 2100 grams is considered quite routine, and mortality is less than 1% (assuming no other problems such as congenital heart disease, genetic abnormalities, etc.).

Above: Patrick Kennedy, son of President John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy, is transported to Boston Childrens Hospital on August 7, 1963. The baby was born by C/S at 34.5 weeks and expired due to RDS on August 9.

* "Hyaline membrane disease" was a pathologic diagnosis. After the death of a premature infant with RDS, microscopic examination of the lungs showed that the alveoli were atelectatic and the air spaces were filled with a glassy, homogeneous (hyaline) substance.

New York Times August 8, 1963
New York Times August 9, 1963
JFK Baby Death in 1963 Sparked Medical Race to Save Preemies, ABC News
The Tragic Death of Patrick, Irish Central.
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, Wikipedia

Created 9/4/2022 / Last modified 9/4/2022
Copyright © 1995-2022 Neonatology on the Web /