Seven-year-old Colton Woolbright used to grow frustrated when his classmates didn’t understand why he takes daily medications or wears a mask to protect his compromised immune system. Colton was born with cystic fibrosis, but he has refused to let the disease best him.
“Last year, he had an amazing teacher who had all of the first-graders paint masks and wear them for a day to help them understand what Colton has to do,” said Colton’s mother, Missy.
CF is a genetic disorder that causes a thick mucus buildup in the lungs and other organs. “A lot of people think it’s a lung issue, but it’s not just a lung issue, it’s a whole lot more than that,” Missy said. For someone so young, Colton is very in tune to his health while living with CF. “If he isn’t feeling good, he lets me know,” Missy said. “That’s one thing I can say for sure about him.”
Colton’s parents knew their son could have CF prior to his birth. “My very first ultrasound showed something in his intestines was not working correctly,” Missy said. “They couldn’t tell at the time if it was down syndrome, CF or a blockage. The day Colton was born, the tests came back positive for CF.” At one day old, Colton was sent to Children’s of Alabama for surgery to remove blockage from his intestines. He spent the first six weeks of his life in the hospital.
When Colton was 6 years old, he contracted two strong bacteria, one of which was so rare that doctors at Children’s had not encountered it before. Doctors discovered there were only 34 reported cases of this rare bacteria in the world – 33 of which were CF patients. The combination of both bacteria made Colton’s case very challenging. “It took a toll on all of us. We were all agitated because we couldn’t figure out what was going on,” Missy said. With determination and the right resources, the doctors were able to diagnosis Colton correctly. “Children’ has been amazing. From the clinics to the interns, to the nurses, everyone has been great,” Missy said.
Missy is proud of her son, saying he is a good example to others because of his positive attitude about his condition. An avid, baseball and football fan, Colton plays on the baseball all-star team and collects college football helmets. He is an A student and enjoys school.
“He doesn’t give me any trouble when he takes his meds. He has never said, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ If he doesn’t have a negative attitude about it, I can’t,” Missy said. “If he stays positive, I have to stay positive.”