DESTIN — Little Cayden Alexander Guercio is a fighter. His Gaelic name, which means “a great fighter” even reflects that.
Born to Dennis and Asdis Guercio on May 24, Cayden was four months early and weighed only 1 pound, 10 ounces at birth.
Today, Cayden has passed his due date of Sept. 2 and weighs 6 pounds, but due to his premature birth he struggles with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a condition caused by underdeveloped lungs.
“Cayden was born with severe lung disease,” said Dennis. “His lungs are too small for his body.”
First hospitalized at Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast and now in Pensacola, the Guercios said the hospital staff has been outstanding with Cayden, but now their son needs more specialized care and a lung transplant.
“They created a small miracle for us,” said Dennis, “They told us he had less than 24 hours to live unless a miracle happened and we believed one did; they actually saved our baby’s life. This is an awesome hospital. They have been there for us 1,000 percent. They have a great team here.”
The past four months have been grueling for the Guercio’s as they have never left Cayden’s side, save to eat and sleep at the nearby Ronald McDonald House in Pensacola. The couple’s family members have flown to Destin to help care for their two school-aged children Nathan, 10, and Sarah, 11.
“Every day is a struggle, there’s not a good day,” said Dennis. “We have been told our baby is dying, that he needs a lung transplant, and the lung transplant is a major, major process. It’s very dangerous, and when they replace the lungs they usually replace the heart. Most babies do not survive, and if they do they are given a 25-percent chance to survive above the age of 10.”
The family is hoping for Cayden’s vitals to stabilize enough so he can be airlifted to a children’s hospital in either Houston, Philadelphia or Cincinnati.
“We don’t know the unexpected; We are not sure if they are paying for the flight to get there, but we don’t really worry about the debt we are getting into,” said Dennis. “My main concern right now is my son. We have a baby who is dying and we just need to go where he can get help.
“We just need to get Cayden to a place where he can get care and so he can survive,” he added.
Even in this perilous time, the Guercio’s said they are holding on to hope.
“I don’t wish this on any parents, but one thing we found out is that people all over the country are praying for us,” said Dennis. “We have so many people we can’t even count who are praying for Cayden and it gives a little bit of hope. Prayers are just as welcomed and important as money. We just want to bring Cayden home.”