Where Are They Now: Johnny Webb

Johnny Webb plays with toys in his home

A version of this story originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Sweet Charity.

Johnny Webb has grown into a healthy and active little boy, and Good Shepherd Pediatrics helped him get there.

“Tomorrow marks 6 years ago. The one day of the year I dread, sob and just try to forget. Everyone knows Johnny’s story but very few people know the WHY...” Tara Webb posted that on her Facebook page on October 23, 2018. The “why” referred to the perilous medical journey her unborn son was about to embark on six years ago when Tara’s water broke at 20 weeks, putting baby Johnny’s life in jeopardy. Tara managed to hold on to Johnny for a while longer, but at 27 weeks — just seven months into her pregnancy — things took a turn for the worse.

On December 11, 2012, Johnny Webb was delivered by cesarean section. He weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces and was 13 inches long with skin so translucent you could see the veins just beneath the surface. You wouldn’t have known it to look at him, but a warrior was born. In the weeks and months to follow, Johnny would need that fighting spirit to stay alive.

Johnny spent the first five-and-a-half months in the neonatal intensive care unit of a local hospital. Each breath from his tiny underdeveloped lungs was a battle to survive. In May 2013, Johnny was transferred to the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit in Bethlehem. For Tara and her husband Chris, the next five months challenged their emotional fortitude as the pediatric rehabilitation team focused on strengthening Johnny’s lungs and stamina so he could eat, suck and swallow. And, gain weight.

By the time Johnny went home, he weighed 14 pounds, 4 ounces. Tara and Chris did therapy at home with Johnny, using skills taught to them by the Good Shepherd staff.

Looking at Johnny today, as he races around the house playing with his brothers and sis-ter, it’s hard to imagine he once was no bigger than a ruler. “He’s a daredevil, running and jumping,” says Tara. “He’s such a far cry from that wimpy little baby barely hanging on. Johnny is being raised to know what a fighter he is, and who is pivotal in that. Obviously Good Shepherd is in the center.”