For the life of Jude

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Jon and Maureen Grace know the exact number of days their son Jude stayed at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center after he was born.

“Four-hundred eighteen days,” said Maureen in an interview with WOWT 6 News. “We spent so much time in the hospital, I saw the staff and doctors and nurses more than I saw my own family and friends.”

It was a grim outlook for Jude when he was born seven weeks premature on March 28, 2014. He weighed less than four pounds with a congenital heart disorder and was diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” said Maureen. “We didn't know if he would survive.”

Jude’s parents are effusive in their praise for the care their son received at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. He eventually was able to come home although Jude still needed constant attention from his parents.

"We basically were running an ICU out of our home," said Maureen.

Normally a child's lungs grow and develop as the child ages. It soon became clear to Jude's parents that he wasn't progressing.

"He just wasn't growing new tissue in his lungs, explained Jude's father Jon. "They were staying the same size and he was getting bigger."

Because of that Jude went back to Children's and a lung transplant was deemed necessary. Maureen and Jude flew to Texas in late 2015 and he was fortunate to receive new lungs from a donor in March 2016.

Jude is now home again and with functional lungs he is quickly catching up on normal two-year old activities.

"He loves picture books, he scoots around the house, he's learning how to interact with other kids, and he has a belly laugh," said Maureen. "He's not in need of the portable ventilator, there is no trach, it's such a change."

The portable ventilator that was used for Jude to allow him to come home the first time is vital for other young patients at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center. Money donated during the current Tune in 4 Kids campaign will be used to help pay for the machine.

“I get emotional thinking about the staff at Children's Hospital,” said Maureen. "They never gave up on him or us. His doctors follow him on Facebook and some of the nurses still come to our house just to see Jude. He’s the sweetest little thing.”

For more information on Jude, click on the links included with this story.