Michael is a happy, eager, energetic 4-year-old who loves to learn and is wild about football and monster trucks. And that’s something of a miracle because his start in life was very rough.

Born at 27 weeks and weighing just over 2 pounds, Michael was immediately taken to Connecticut Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Hartford, where highly skilled neonatologists care for premature and critically ill newborns from across the region. Within 24 hours, he had bleeding in his lungs, and he coded. The medical staff at the NICU revived him, but the crises weren’t over.

Michael had a hole in his heart, but he didn’t respond to the medications and a few days later, he coded again. The doctors revived him and then scheduled him for surgery to close the hole, and that surgery did the trick. Michael recovered quickly and began doing very well. But his troubles still weren’t over: His brain had hemorrhaged when he coded, and he developed hydrocephaly (water on the brain) as a result. That required fluid to be drained every day. Finally, after 98 days in the NICU and heroic efforts by his doctors, Michael was cleared to go home for the first time.

Today, Michael gets around in a wheelchair and has some minor cognitive delays, but he is getting help with physical and occupational therapy, and overall, he is doing incredibly well.

“Those doctors saved my son’s life; it’s as simple as that,” his mother, Amannda, says.