The final child of American President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was Patrick Bouvier Kennedy. Patrick was born preterm, and due to the disease’s rapid development, he only had 39 hours to survive. Medical staff made a heroic effort to save his life from the moment of his birth till the time of his death. A rapid transport to a hospital more than 100 kilometers away, the employment of one of the most advanced medical technology at the time, and a worried President waiting outside the room where the child was being treated by the physicians were all components of this endeavor. A nation was riveted by this dramatic series of events, many of which were covered by the national media, as Americans held their breath in the hope that the youngster would make a full recovery. The fact that Jacqueline had already had a loss and a stillbirth added to the nation’s emotional burden. The assassination of Patrick’s father, barely three months after his death, would further traumatize the country, even if the attempts to save his life and his death remained ingrained in the American psyche.
Troubled Pregnancy History of Jackie Kennedy
Jackie Kennedy, whose real name is Jacqueline Kennedy, lost a pregnancy in 1955. She had another tragedy the very next year when she gave birth to a stillborn child.
Caroline was born in 1957, and John Jr. was born in 1960, after which she gave birth to two healthy children.
Jacqueline Kennedy had been the First Lady for over three years by the time she was 34 years old in August 1963. She was also carrying her sixth child and was in the third trimester. She asked her doctor, John W. Walsh, to accompany her when she spent the summer in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, with Patrick because John Jr.’s delivery was likewise preterm. In case of emergency, a room was also set aside at the neighboring Otis Air Force Base Hospital.
Jackie accompanied Caroline and John Jr. on a pony ride in Osterville, Massachusetts, on August 7, 1963. While the kids were riding their ponies, Jackie began to experience labor pains. The two of them were immediately transported to the Otis Air Force Base by helicopter once Walsh was contacted.
The Battle to Save the Child’s Life and the Birth
In Massachusetts, the United States, at the Otis Air Force Base Hospital, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was born on August 7, 1963. He was delivered through emergency Caesarean section thanks to Jacqueline Kennedy. He was born five and a half weeks early.
Since the nineteenth century, Patrick was the first child to be born to an American President and First Lady while they were in office.
Patrick began displaying signs of the condition known as hyaline membrane disease, or HMD, not long after his birth. Now known as infant respiratory distress syndrome, the illness causes breathing problems.
When he got to the hospital and saw his newborn child in trouble, President John F. Kennedy, who was in the White House at the time of birth, phoned a priest. The chaplain performed the infant’s baptism. Patrick was chosen as his middle name in remembrance of his great-grandfather Patrick Joseph Kennedy and his grandfather Joseph Patrick Kennedy. His mother’s maiden name, Bouvier, appears in his name.
John F. Kennedy was given permission to wheel the infant in an incubator to meet his wife while he was at the hospital.
James E. Drorbaught, a pediatric expert from the Boston Children’s Hospital, was helicoptered in to try to save the youngster. Five hours after his advice, the infant was transported in an ambulance to Boston Children’s Hospital. Despite the fact that the destination was around 100 kilometers away, the child was transported there within 90 minutes due to the urgency of the situation.
The move to Boston Children’s Hospital was initially described by the White House as a preventative step. Hyaline membrane disease was accurately identified as the baby’s illness. The general public was also informed that it would take at least four days to accurately assess the infant’s condition.
According to the reports, the baby received medication to treat his ailment. At the time, the only thing that could be done for a patient with hyaline membrane illness was to try to maintain his blood chemistry as closely as possible to normal.
Drorbaught assisted in Patrick’s transfer to the Boston Children’s Hospital, where the medical staff made valiant attempts to preserve his life. HBOT, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, was used. The young patient had therapy inside a hyperbaric chamber. The pressure within this chamber, which was filled with only oxygen, was greater than one atmosphere. This treatment was novel at the time, according to the New York Times, who called it “one of the newest interests of medical researchers.”
On August 9, 1963, at 4:04 a.m., Patrick Bouvier Kennedy passed away despite the hospital’s greatest efforts. He had a 39-hour, 12-minute lifespan.
Effects of Death & the Funeral on His Parents
President Kennedy was not in the room with the hyperbaric chamber when his baby passed away. He was accompanied by his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Jacqueline Kennedy was attending her C-section recovery at the Otis Air Force Base Hospital in the interim. She received a sedative, and she dozed off until her husband arrived via plane from Boston.
Pierre Salinger, the White House press secretary at the time, said of Jacqueline’s response to the death of her child, “Given the circumstances, her condition is satisfactory.” Following Patrick’s passing, The New York Times noted that President Kennedy appeared “grave and appeared exhausted” as he arrived at the Otis Air Force base.
Clint Hill, a Secret Service agent, claimed that John and Jacqueline had “a distinctly closer relationship” that intensified following Patrick’s passing. The White House press secretary, Pierre Salinger, claims that after Patrick’s passing, the President and First Lady grew even closer.
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy’s short burial mass was held in a Boston private chapel on August 10, 1963.
Legacy of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy
Infant medical treatment was significantly impacted by Patrick’s passing. It prompted neonatal researchers to look for a practical way to handle respiratory distress syndrome, claims Dr. Suhas M. Nafday, director of Newborn Services at the Children’s Hospital of the Montefiore Medical Center in New York.
Estimated net worth
The estimated net worth of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy is about $1 million.
Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was born on August 7, which was significant for President Kennedy for yet another reason. Kennedy, a naval commander in the Second World War, was marooned on a Pacific island for five days before being rescued by the navy on August 7, 1943.
Patrick was initially laid to rest in President Kennedy’s hometown of Brookline, Massachusetts’ Holyhood Cemetery. On December 5, 1963, at Arlington National Cemetery, his remains were reinterred alongside those of his stillborn sister. They were eventually moved to permanent graves in Section 45, Grid U-35, so even that was not to be their last resting place.