Finding Nathan’s Voice

Finding Nathan’s Voice

Nathan.Nathan’s parents were told that he would never breathe on his own, never speak, never be normal. Cincinnati Children’s gave him a different outcome.

Our expertise with the most complicated procedures of the ear, nose and throat (ENT) brings families to Cincinnati Children’s from across the country and around the world. From ear tubes to cochlear implants to airway reconstruction, our world-renowned specialists are at the forefront of advancing discovery and providing leading-edge care.

Finding Hope

It had been a year of ups and downs for Logan and Kristy Vits of Houston, Texas. After losing their daughter 35 weeks into their pregnancy, they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their son. Nathan arrived a month early, weighing in at nearly 9 pounds and measuring 22 inches.

But something wasn’t right. “Within minutes of delivery, I knew something was wrong,” remembers Kristy. “He wasn’t crying, and no one knew what to do with this big baby boy who wasn’t breathing. Nathan was dying.”

At just two hours old, Nathan was put on a tracheotomy tube (trach) to help him breathe and sent to intensive care for monitoring and testing to determine what was blocking his airway. Tests conducted at his hometown hospital were inconclusive, and Nathan was released without a definitive diagnosis, but a very grim prognosis.

“The doctors where Nathan was born told us he would never breathe without a trach, he would not develop normally, would never speak and was at a high-risk for death,” remembers Kristy. “That wasn’t acceptable to me.”

Logan and Kristy found the hope they were looking for at Cincinnati Children’s. After researching airway experts, Kristy learned that the authority was Robin Cotton, MD, then director of the Department of Pediatric Otolaryngology, more commonly known as ENT, at Cincinnati Children’s. Cotton pioneered the procedure that is now standard practice for airway reconstruction, and Kristy wanted the best care for Nathan.

Families like the Vitses travel from all over the world seeking Cotton’s expertise. In fact, 70 percent of his patients come from beyond Greater Cincinnati.

“I emailed Dr. Cotton, and he replied in less than an hour,” Kristy remembers. “We were at Cincinnati Children’s a few weeks later, and we’ve never looked back.”

Changing Nathan’s Outcome

Cotton performed the first of the three reconstruction procedures on Nathan when he was 8 months old. When he was 3½, the day finally arrived the Vitses had been waiting for – Nathan’s trach was removed, allowing him to breathe on his own for the first time in his life.

Today, Nathan is an artistic 7-year-old who loves reading and “talking incessantly” – something that Logan and Kristy are not complaining about, given his journey. While he doesn’t always have the same endurance as other kids, it doesn’t stop him from running, playing and participating in everything he can.

Partnership Makes the Difference

Cotton is a hero to Nathan’s family, an important innovator in his field and a generous donor to Cincinnati Children’s. His partnership helps us advance discovery to improve care and provide new hope and healing to families.

“I am proud to support the important work being done at Cincinnati Children’s,” Cotton shares. “I’m also very grateful to and humbled by the many others who invest in our work. No matter our role, we all have an important position on the team – allowing us to truly change the game for children like Nathan.”

Supporters, like Cotton, have made it possible to bring other world-renowned specialists to Cincinnati Children’s such as Dimitar Deliyski, MD, who leads ENT’s world-renowned voice lab. Deliyski is the first person to hold the Robin T. Cotton Research Chair of Pediatric Otolaryngology, which was made possible by the investment of donors.

Deliyski’s state-of-the-art lab is the largest in country. His team focuses on improving voice disorders which can have a tremendous impact on the lives of children.

Their Happy Ending

The Vitses always look forward to returning to Cincinnati Children’s for Nathan’s annual visit. “Nathan considers Dr. Cotton family, and he loves to go to Cincinnati Children’s. Everyone treats him like a prince – he thinks he’s on vacation,” Kristy laughs.

“Part of what makes Nathan’s story so special is that we were told he would never get his trach out, never speak and never be normal,” says Kristy. “Cincinnati Children’s gave us a different outcome. Dr. Cotton and his team are extraordinary, and we will be forever grateful for the life they’ve given to our little boy.”

Nathan and Robin Cotton, MD, smile after a good checkup. Dr. Cotton gave hope to Nathan’s family after they were told he would never breathe on his own.

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