• Meet the Orange Park hospital employee who took in a baby born addicted to drugs

    By: Deanna Bettineschi , Action News Jax


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    An Orange Park hospital employee is fostering a 2-month-old baby boy.

    Donna Hightower said she’s not dealing with normal challenges that parents or guardians face.

    The baby boy she's fostering was born addicted to drugs.

    “There’s multiple things this baby has been exposed to,” Hightower said.

    Hightower works in labor and delivery at Orange Park Medical Center.

    Employees were taking turns soothing the newborn during his withdrawals. Hightower said the bond between her and the baby boy was immediate.

    She began coming to visit him on her breaks and even days off.

    She would make her way to the NICU and comfort the crying and uncomfortable baby boy.

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    “I would go over and hold him and feed him and sing to him,” she said.

    At five weeks old, Hightower took him home. With the help of her daughter, they’ve found ways to comfort him through his withdrawals.

    “There’s a lot of the jerking and a lot of the shivering and a lot of crying, the non-stop crying,” she said.

    Orange Park Medical Center says on average, five babies are born addicted to drugs per month.

    In 2016, 70 babies were born addicted.

    So far in 2017, 45 have been born addicted to drugs but they expect that number to rise before the end of the year.

    Hightower says it could take between 3 to 6 months before all of the baby boy's withdrawal symptoms go away.

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