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Colorado's First AIDS Baby Is Doctor's Miracle

By Kathy Walsh

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - Doctors have years of training, yet sometimes they are surprised by extraordinary events. Now, a pediatrician from Children's Hospital Colorado has compiled a book of medical miracles. It's called "Miracles We Have Seen, America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget."

Seventy-five doctors shared their stories. Each wrote an essay about clinical events that stunned them.

The doctor responsible for the collection is Dr. Harley Rotbart, Professor and Vice Chair Emeritus of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist at Children's Hospital Colorado. Rotbart has a miracle of his own.

Dr. Harley Rotbart with CBS4's Kathy Walsh (credit: CBS)

In 1985, a 2-year-old was living in the shadows. After a blood transfusion at birth, he became the first Colorado child to test positive for AIDS. His mother eventually went public with Jonathan's plight. She was certain he'd never see his third birthday.

"We were stunned and we were horrified," said Rotbart.

Rotbart helped diagnose Jonathan at Children's Hospital Colorado when Rotbart was a Pediatric Infectious Diseases fellow. The sick little boy was shunned by much of the community.

(credit: CBS)

"The neighborhood pool did not want Jonathan to swim there because of the fear of contagion," explained Rotbart.

Jonathan's mother fought to get him in school. Back then, there was no treatment for AIDS.

"To this day, I have no idea how he survived," Rotbart told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh. "Miracles can happen."

Jonathan Swain is now 33 and says he's feeling good. He lives in Utah, owns restaurants and has a 12-year-old son. He told us by telephone, he remembers being an outcast.

"Not only was I not accepted, I was feared and that's weird to grow up that way," Swain said.

medical-miracles Jonathan Swain
Jonathan Swain (credit: CBS)

The adult Jonathan still has AIDS but takes the latest drugs to control the virus.

"Your whole life changes once you take the medicines like you're supposed to," he said.

Swain isn't convinced he's a miracle, but he knows he beat the odds. He says he never takes the life he's been given for granted.

Additional Resources

Visit a page of where you can purchase the book "Miracles We Have Seen: America's Leading Physicians Share Stories They Can't Forget" by Harley Rotbar.

Follow Rotbar on Twitter @HarleyRotbart and or on Facebook or visit

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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