Baby Dillon's Dad Returns

Marine Maj. Hal Sellers and Baby Dillon Sellers CBS

Marine Maj. Hal Sellers could only dream of a moment so mundane as walking into his house and saying hi to his son Dillon, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

While he was serving in operation Iraqi Freedom, his newborn son was clinging to life, having been diagnosed at 10 weeks old with a heart defect.

Sellers says, "In the back of your mind, his health and welfare were always there, but the Marine Corp is a family to me, too. You feel an obligation to help take care of the Marines who have mothers and fathers, too."

Sellers was in the Kuwaiti desert when he learned a donor heart had been found for Dillon. Mom Betsy faced the infant's surgery alone.

She says there was time when she worried she could lose her husband and her son at the same time. "But there was nothing productive in thinking that way," she says, holding her baby in her arms with her husband at her side. "It was much easier to dream about a day like today."

Healthy baby Dillon was screaming his lungs out. And that was music, even to the ears of big brothers Alex, 8, and Eric, 6, who helped ready Dillon's nursery.

Sellers returned from active duty in Iraq just last week and is back to work at his Marine base in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

He says when he first got home, he was amazed at how strong his son was. "Amazing because when I left home he was pre surgery, nine pounds, skin and bones," he says.

Because Dillon is still on oxygen and closely monitored by doctors at Loma Linda Medical Center, where he underwent the transplant, he hasn't moved home completely. Betsy Sellers is staying with him near the hospital

"She was asked to do a lot," says Sellers about his wife. "I knew when I left that, whatever happened, that was going to be the case. I really believe it was harder on her than me."

As Sellers gives a bottle to the baby in his arms, Betsy Sellers says it was harder on her husband, who turned down a military desk job to go to war.

"I don't have any regrets about my decision," Sellers says, "probably because of the way it worked out."

Even as they watch their three children play, they know their good fortune came at a price.

Betsy Sellers says, "I think about our donor family. I think about them all the time. We are so grateful for what they did."

Dillon is almost through the most critical phase of recovery and could be home for good by Father's Day. He is due for a checkup in two weeks, and his family will hopes to get the green light to take him home then.
  • Tatiana Morales

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