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Animated four-year-old living healthy, star-filled life thanks to MCG, NICU

Mark Gregory

Four-year-old Mark Gregory is active and healthy now thanks to the MCG Children's Medical Center and NICU. (June 3, 2011 / WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, June 3, 2011

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Four-year-old Mark Gregory just wants to be a star. But for the first part of his life, Mark spent the better part of the first year and a half of his life at MCG and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU.

Now he's back home, spending time singing on his karaoke machine to tunes like, "Old McDonald Had a Farm," "If You're Happy and You Know It," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

Bryan Baker, 12 On Your Side: "Do you like to sing on your karaoke machine into the microphone?"

Mark: "I don't wanna sing on the microphone, I just wanna be a star!"

Mark loves cameras and is fascinated by ours. It's also safe to say he loves attention. But for the first part of his life this four-year old had the kind of attention no one wants, medical attention.

"At 27 weeks, he weighed a pound 12 ounces at birth," remembers his Grandfather, also Mark Gregory.

Doctors discovered a tumor on the younger Mark's intestines. His appendix also had to be removed from an odd place -- his intestines. Then, Mark developed chronic lung disease and had to breathe with the help of a ventilator. He spent eight months in the NICU at MCG.

But there were more problems when he finally went home to his grandparents' house.

"He's on about five liters of oxygen, and he can't get none because his airway is plugged up," says Gregory. "At the time this happens, your mind's racing: 'Is he gonna make it? What do I need to do?'

"That was the moment we thought we was going to lose him."

Mark's home sleeping machine wasn't strong enough to keep his lungs inflated. Almost weekly he was in and out of the MCG Children's Medical Center.

"Seeing him laying in the hospital bed, hooked to all of those tubes and stuff," says Terri, Mark's Grandmother, "...and I'm getting emotional, i'm sorry...and watching him run around now -- it's a miracle."

Now Mark's at home making up for lost time

Bryan: "I heard that you were at Disney World."

Mark: "Where?"

Bryan: "In Florida -- remember that?"

Mark: "No. I was at Disney World with my girlfriend, at the hotel, me my girlfriend..."

It was a vacation that may not have happened without the MCG Children's Medical Center.

"Every time we needed them they was a phone call away," says Gregory. "If they wasn't there I don't know what people would do. If that place ever closed down, Augusta would become a ghost town."

Instead Mark's very much alive and finally going to be a star.

Mark still goes to physical therapy and speech therapy weekly. He recently had surgeries to have his adenoids removed and tubes put in his ear because of many ear infections. But his grandparents say the fact that he can breathe and eat on his own is a miracle.


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