Caleb Peltier was just three days old when he arrived in the emergency room at Tri-City Medical Center in September 2010. He was barely breathing and his young mother feared her newborn son, seemingly healthy at birth, would not leave the Oceanside hospital to join his family at their home in Vista.
Caleb not only survived, but today he is a rambunctious, healthy 2-year-old boy.
His parents, Daniel and Casey Peltier, credit his recovery to the care he received at Tri-City Medical Center. It is a day the young mother and father will never forget.
Shortly after he arrived at the hospital, Caleb was resuscitated by the ER team and Tri-City’s head neonatologist, Dr. Hamid Movahhedian, was paged. Movahhedian is the only board-certified neonatologist specializing in pediatric cardiology in San Diego County and one of a few nationwide trained in both specialties.
Movahhedian, or “Dr. Mo” as he is affectionately known by his staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), diagnosed Caleb with critical congenital heart disease, a potentially fatal condition that often goes undetected. With a diagnosis in hand, Caleb was stabilized and transferred to Rady Children’s Hospital for surgery.
The case, which deeply impacted the medical staff, prompted the ER and NICU departments at Tri-City Medical Center to formalize a new emergency code so that all babies 60 days or younger in distress would receive the same, immediate specialized care that saved Caleb’s life. The new code was launched on April 5, 2012, and at least seven “Code Calebs” have been called since then.
In addition to Tri-City Medical Center adopting Code Caleb, the Vista newborn’s story was the driving force behind a new law, Assembly Bill 1731, which requires all California hospitals to screen newborns for critical congenital heart disease before being sent home using a simple, inexpensive screening test. The pulse oximetry screening would have diagnosed Caleb’s illness before he was discharged from the hospital where he was born. Beginning in July 2013, all hospitals must use this test.
Caleb’s parents, Daniel and Casey, feel blessed to have their son in their lives and they have committed to helping other parents who might find themselves in a similar situation. They dedicated countless hours lobbying for passage of AB 1731, sponsored by Assemblyman Marty Block, and are helping to spearhead an effort to get all hospitals to adopt Code Caleb. That effort will launch in the spring.
Facts about congenital heart disease in infants
*One in 120 babies is born with congenital heart disease
*An estimated 30 babies die each year in California from undiagnosed congenital heart disease