Collin's Chronic Illness Story

Jun 6, 2019

After years of chronic illness, parents and infant from Sarnia, Ontario find hope at Children's Hospital

On the outside, Collin Campbell of Sarnia, Ontario, was like any other baby. Yet, he suffered from a birth defect that affects only one in 25,000 to 35,000 pregnancies in Canada. Unaware of a potential killer lurking inside Collin’s tiny body, he suffered from chronic respiratory problems with no clear reason why. At age two, a series of events would lead Collin and his parents to DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan where surgeons would diagnose Collin’s mysterious ailment and save his life.

To John and Mary Campbell, their new son Collin was perfect in every way. However, they were concerned about his chronic respiratory problems. Doctors assured the Campbells that this was normal because Collin’s young immune system was regularly exposed to germs in day care. At age three, Collin went into respiratory distress and his parents raced him to the local emergency room. There, doctors administered a breathing treatment, but Collin’s health began to deteriorate. Physicians ordered X-rays of Collin’s chest and after examination, were puzzled by what they saw. They consulted specialists at Children’s Hospital of Michigan who recommended that Collin be transferred there immediately for further evaluation.

At Children’s Hospital, Collin’s health continued to decline. He was placed in the ICU for the next couple of days while physicians worked to unravel the mysterious ailment that eluded other doctors.

“We compared current X-rays of Collin’s chest with X-rays taken when he was only eight months-old and discovered that he had this mass since he was an infant,” said Paul Stockmann, M.D., F.A.C.S, pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. “Collin had a congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation that had gone undiagnosed since birth.”

A congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM) is a non-cancerous mass of abnormal lung tissue usually located on one section of the lung. The condition may form fluid filled cysts and cause difficulty breathing.

“Children’s Hospital of Michigan performs more than 14,000 pediatric surgeries every year, but we only see about three to four cases of CCAM a year,” added Stockmann. “This condition is not only rare, but its symptoms often mirror common respiratory conditions such as asthma.”

After years of chronic illness, Collin’s parents found relief in a diagnosis that eluded them for the first few years of Collin’s young life. Surgeons immediately removed the orange-sized cyst from Collin’s lung and he slowly began to recover. Today, Collin is an active boy who spends his time practicing martial arts.