All of which may explain why Kennedy’s friend and fellow World War II naval veteran Ben Bradlee is certain that when the president’s secretary, Evelyn Lincoln, hurried into the Oval Office at 11:43 a.m. on August 7, a Wednesday, to report that Jackie had gone into premature labor on Cape Cod, there was "no way in God's earth" that he did not think, My child is being born 20 years to the day when I was rescued, a coincidence providing an additional emotional dimension to a day that would be among the most traumatic of his life.— Thurston Clarke, JFK's Last Hundred Days (2013)
Shortly after birth, Patrick developed symptoms of hyaline membrane disease (HMD), now called infant respiratory distress syndrome (IRDS). It was detected by breathing difficulties within minutes. The President arrived, saw his son in distress, and sent for a chaplain. The infant was quickly baptized with the name of Patrick after his grandfather Joseph Patrick Kennedy (1888–1969) and great-grandfather Patrick Joseph Kennedy (1858–1929), and Bouvier for his mother's maiden name.
The child was initially buried at Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, Massachusetts, the president's hometown. His body and that of a stillborn sister, whom Jacqueline Kennedy called Arabella, were re-interred on December 5, 1963, alongside their father at Arlington National Cemetery, and later again moved to their permanent graves in Section 45, Grid U-35.
Patrick died at 4:04 a.m. on August 9—"despite a desperate medical effort to save him"—having lived 39 hours and 12 minutes. At the time of Patrick's death, the President was outside the room with the hyperbaric chamber with his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The First Lady, then 34, remained at Otis Air Force Base Hospital recovering from the caesarean section. She was told of her son's death by Dr. Walsh. (He would console her again after her husband's assassination; he was aboard Air Force One with her as she returned from Dallas with the president's body). She was given a sedative and slept until the President flew from Boston. Very little was said about the family's reaction; White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger stated of the First Lady's condition, "Given the circumstances, her condition is satisfactory." The President, who had reportedly only slept four hours since the birth, was photographed arriving at Otis Air Force Base looking "grave and appearing tired".