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Dennis Quaid's Quest

After his infant twins nearly died from an accidental drug overdose, the actor found a bold new mission.

Dennis Quaid

— Art Streiber


En español  |  It was, Dennis Quaid remembers, "the worst day of our lives." On the morning of November 19, 2007, the actor and his wife, Kimberly, rushed to Los Angeles's Cedars-Sinai hospital—one of the nation's best health care facilities—where their 12-day-old twins had been admitted two days before for treatment of routine staph infections. Their pediatrician and the head nurse met them at the door of their babies' room, where a cluster of doctors hovered over Thomas Boone ( known as T. Boone) and his sister, Zoe Grace (or Z.G.). "We could see them working on the kids," Quaid says. "It was chilling."

The pediatrician quietly informed the nervous parents that the twins had inadvertently been massively overdosed with a blood thinner called heparin, putting them at risk of bleeding to death. "Initially, I felt this really couldn't be happening," the actor remembers. "Then I felt fear—and helplessness."

Dennis and Kimberly went to the twins' bedsides and watched, immobilized. "They were bleeding out of every place where they'd been poked and prodded," says Quaid. In an attempt to stanch the flow, a doctor placed a clamp on T. Boone's umbilical cord. A stream of blood shot across the room, splattering the wall. "We were in shock," says Quaid.

Whether by act of God or human error, Dennis Quaid was now a different man, with a very different mission.

To reverse the effects of the heparin overdose—the infants had twice received 1,000 times the correct dose—doctors gave T. Boone and Z.G. a drug called protamine. Dennis and Kimberly refused to leave their bedsides for the next 32 hours, gently touching and trying to soothe their babies. "They were really in a lot of discomfort, crying," Quaid says. "It had to be painful." Finally, late on the second day, the infants' blood coagulation levels inched into the normal range. A neurologist and other specialists assessed brain and motor functions, which, miraculously, appeared normal.

Though Quaid wanted the crisis kept quiet, news leaked fast. "That may have been a blessing in disguise," he says, "because a lot of people told us later they were praying for our babies. In the end, I believe that the power of prayer from so many is what saved them. It's obvious to me that a higher power in the universe is controlling what's going on."

Whether by act of God or human error, Dennis Quaid was now a very different man, with a very different mission.

We're sitting on a patio at Quaid's sprawling estate in Los Angeles's Pacific Palisades. For T. Boone and Z.G., this is home, though getting here wasn't easy. Quaid, 56, and Kimberly Buffington—an Austin, Texas, real estate agent he met in 2003 and married in 2004—tried to get pregnant for three years. Buffington, now 38, suffered repeated miscarriages. "That's really hard," Quaid says. "We had just about given up." The actor pauses, then offers up his trademark possum-eating-honey grin: "We gave it one more shot and found out it was twins—a boy and a girl!" Though the twins are the couple's biological offspring, they were carried to term by a gestational surrogate.

The babies were born healthy; T. Boone weighed 6 pounds, 12 ounces; and Z.G., 5 pounds, 9 ounces. The proud parents brought them home, welcomed by friends and family.

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