For Rich and Caitlin Hill, the decision to launch a “Field of Genes’’ campaign with a $575,000 donation to support research on rare and undiagnosed genetic diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children stems from the waves of shock and confusion that confronted them five years ago.
When Brooks Hill was born at Massachusetts General Hospital on December 26, 2013, Caitlin Hill immediately knew that something was wrong. The boy’s mother, a registered nurse, recognized a “delicate energy’’ in the delivery room. Brooks didn’t cry without stimulation. He had cortical thumbs folded into his hands and contracted legs and arms. Though Brooks had been induced a few weeks before his delivery date because he’d been undersized, Caitlin Hill heard the doctors whisper that the placenta was the size that would be found had her son reached full term.
Nothing had prepared Caitlin and Rich Hill (the pitcher who spent parts of five seasons pitching in the Red Sox organization, and who is now with the Dodgers) for the symptoms that they confronted, nor for the questions without answers that followed the birth of their second son. There had been no warning during the pregnancy that Brooks Hill would be born with neurological abnormalities or progressively failing kidneys — or that, even as the symptoms were identified, the root cause might remain shrouded in mystery prior to his passing away less than two months later, on February 24, 2014, due to what was eventually identified as Galloway Mowat Syndrome (GAMOS).