OGDEN — Haiden Morgan is finally home in Ogden, after spending most of his short life in a Miami hospital following his surprise arrival on a cruise ship in August.
“(We’re) ecstatic, very ecstatic,” said Emily Morgan, Haiden’s mother. “It’s just a very surreal feeling that this is finally coming true.”
Saturday night, AirMed made a very special delivery from Miami and landed at Ogden-Hinckley Airport carrying precious cargo. After spending 78 days away from his home, little Haiden arrived in Utah.
"Even a week ago we weren't sure if we were all going to be together,” Haiden’s father, Chase Morgan, said.
In August, his parents, along with 3-year-old daughter Chloe, were on a Royal Caribbean Cruise liner, taking a seven-day trip through the Caribbean. With Emily's due date on Dec. 19, her doctors cleared her for the trip. But the second night into the cruise, at sea, the labor pains began and continued to get worse.
"At 1:20 a.m. the doctor came over, looked at me and said, 'Keep your legs closed, don't push because we are not porting for another 14 hours,'" Morgan said in an interview in September. "And I said, 'I am pushing because this baby is coming, I know!'"
Thirty minutes later, the baby arrived. At first, the ship's medical staff told her she had miscarried and that the baby had died. She asked to see the baby, but the staff refused at first.
The Morgans were understandably shocked and saddened. Then came another twist. "About 45 minutes after I had delivered, the two doctors came back in and said the baby was still alive, however, they didn't expect him to live very long."
Little Haiden weighed only 1 pound 8 ounces and spent several days in a hospital in Puerto Rico. He was later flown to a Miami hospital, where he gained a few pounds and defied the odds.
"He started taking bottles a number of weeks ago, and his breathing has been on very low settings, so he's surpassed their expectations a long time ago,” Emily Morgan said, adding that her son is a little fighter with lots of spunk, who now weighs 4 pounds 6 ounces.
But the family was separated. Three weeks ago, Chase Morgan had return to Utah for work while his wife stayed in Florida.
"We had just prayed and asked for some kind of miracle to happen, and they (AirMed) are our answer to a miracle,” she said.
After hearing the family's story, AirMed officials stepped in to help. Cross-country transports like that are rare, and they said AirMed is the only program in the state that can do it.
Saturday morning, a crew of five who all volunteered their time made sure Haiden made it safely back home.
"A lot of team members have been following the story since the beginning and wanted to be able to step in and do our part,” said Colleen Connelly, nursing director for critical care at AirMed and the emergency department at University Hospital.
"To bring our family home for the holidays, it will be something we'll never be able to repay them for,” Emily Morgan said.
She says the main concern right now is the change in elevation for Haiden, so they will try to lower his oxygen levels. She doesn't know how long her baby will stay at McKay-Dee Hospital, but she hopes he'll be home for Christmas. For now, they are only five minutes away from the hospital and will spend as much time as possible with him.
The Morgans accrued a lot of expenses while staying in Florida, and the medical bills are piling up. They have set up a gofundme account under Haiden’s Medical Journey.
They say they are taking things one day at a time and are extremely grateful for all the support they’ve received worldwide. People have sent them blankets and emails with stories of hope; family and friends have volunteered to help care for their 3-year-old, walk their dog and make them food.
"We know that we're loved and that's been a great feeling for us," Emily Morgan said.
The family has decided to stick with the name chosen for him, even though they had a lot of other suggestions.
“I don't think he'll ever live that down,” she said with a laugh. “Everybody kept saying we should name him Cruise, and I'm like, ‘You know, he's going to know the story his whole life. We'll just keep it with what we had planned, and he'll have a constant reminder of being born on a cruise ship.’”