Dallas Carr is a healthy and happy baby living with his parents — former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and his wife Heather — in Bakersfield. But that wasn't the case when the child was born seven months ago.
Heather's pregnancy went smoothly and Dallas weighed in at a healthy 7 pounds, 10 ounces when he was born Aug. 6 at Clovis Community Hospital.
Six hours later, doctors discovered that Dallas' intestines were tangled and only surgery would be able to fix the problem. He was rushed to Children's Hospital Central California where doctors operated twice on Dallas in four days.
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The first operation untangled the intestines. But because one area was not working properly, the second operation was necessary. What should have been only a few days in the hospital turned into a 23-day stay.
Because Heather's pregnancy and delivery had gone so well, she was released from the hospital early so she could travel to Children's to be with Dallas. Even before she could leave Clovis Community, the doctor in charge of the operation called Heather to explain to her what was happening.
By the time she got there, doctors had already spent more than an hour talking to Derek to explain the procedure and what it would mean.
They knew Dallas was facing a major operation only a few hours into his life, but the speed in which the hospital handled the emergency and the way the staff kept them informed made the new parents feel confident that Dallas was in good hands.
Dealing with being new parents is tough enough, but the medical condition put added pressure on the couple and family.
The Carrs are different in one way from a lot of other new parents.
Going into the college football season last fall, Derek was the Valley's top celebrity. The last thing the couple wanted was a bunch of reporters, or even avid fans, snooping around the hospital regarding their son's condition. No such problems ever materialized because of the vigilance by the staff. The vast majority of people didn't learn how sick Dallas had been until he was released from the hospital.
"Everyone was amazing about helping us keep our privacy. That really made dealing with everything a lot easier," Heather says.
Not only did the stay keep the family out of any additional spotlights, it gave Heather a chance to better ease into her maternal duties.
Because the doctors wouldn't release Dallas until he was able to eat and properly digest food, he stayed at the hospital for just over three weeks.
Heather laughs and says if they ever decide to have another child she will be in for a rude awakening.
"I was able to get some sleep during the hospital stay. I'm sure it won't be like that the next time," she says.
Since that rocky start, the only other trip back to Children's for Dallas was a few weeks ago to deal with some scar tissue build-up from the surgery.
Heather says that one of the amazing things about the hospital is the number of relationships that were made with the staff.
The return visit didn't require Dallas to go back to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where he had stayed so long. He went to the hospital's Voyager area. But, many of the staff members who had cared for Dallas during his first stay stopped by to visit.
That's one of the reasons why the family has such high praise for the hospital.
But the odds are high the Carrs will need to find a new hospital to care for Dallas if he gets sick again. Derek's likely selection in the National Football League draft will take the family to another part of the country.
"I just pray we find a hospital as good as Children's," Heather says.