The Journey of Chadlee Ray

Local News

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Amarillo family Stephen and C.J. Penfold don’t mince words when it comes to describing their son Chadlee’s journey, simply calling it “tough.”

“There’s people worldwide praying for Chadlee because he is such an inspiration and he has been through so much,” said C.J.

Our story of all that Chadlee Ray and his parents C.J. and Stephen have gone through began early in C.J.’s pregnancy back in 2018.

“We knew before he was born that he was going to be very sick. It was not going to be an easy walk in the park. It was going to be difficult,” said Stephen.

“I ended up having preeclampsia & hellp syndrome. I found out I was preeclamptic pretty early on, followed real close for a long time and I ended up delivering him at 26 weeks. He weighed one pound seven ounces,” said C.J.

Along with being born prematurely, Chadlee had several other health issues including chronic lung disease, a heart condition called “Atrial Septal Defect” as well as pulmonary hypertension.

After discovering those issues, the Penfolds were on a flight to Dallas.

“There we got his heart fixed and we were able to stabilize him. We brought him home on a bubble CPAP which was a lot better than I ever expected. I honestly didn’t ever expect to bring him home once I delivered at 26 weeks,” said C.J.

After a six-month stay in the Amarillo NICU, the Penfolds returned home.

But it was a short stay.

“We were home one week with him and put him back in the hospital with respiratory failure. At that point, we ended up having to fly him to Dallas,” said C.J.

The Penfolds spent the next 16 months in and out of hospitals and doctor’s offices in Amarillo, Dallas and Houston.

During that time, Chadlee was equipped with a trach.

“After we got our trach, we were able to start stabilizing him. He coded several times. A lot of them we didn’t know if we were going to get him back from but he’s a trooper, brought him home in April and he did great. He’s just overall a happy baby now that we’re home,” said C.J.

What started out as a way to keep close family and friends updated during C.J.’s pregnancy on Facebook, turned into “Crusin’ with Chadlee Ray,” which offers updates on Chadlee Ray, both good and bad, to it’s now almost 500 followers.

“You pass by somebody in Wal-Mart and they’re like that’s Chadlee and I’m like who are you? Churches everywhere are praying for Chadlee. I believe prayer works. If it weren’t for prayer, Chadlee wouldn’t have made it,” said C.J.

The message that the Penfolds have for families going through similar situations may be simple.

But it makes all the difference in the world.

“Just keep faith and stay positive. That’s all I can say because I couldn’t have done it without support,” said C.J.

Chadlee will have a procedure in June to help address his pulmonary hypertension in June but besides that, the Penfolds say Chadlee is happy and doing great.

If you would like to follow along with the Penfolds’ updates about the Chadlee Ray, click here.

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