Mighty Blog

Pertussis almost took Daniel’s life

Shelley and Albert were two excited parents to bring their new baby boy, Daniel home. But when Daniel was only 2 weeks old, he started coughing.

Daniel’s parents took him to their regular pediatrician and they said his lungs sounded good and recommended some home remedies to soothe his cough. But things declined quickly after that.

Daniel’s pertussis diagnosis

After a week of trying home remedies, Daniel’s cough got worse. He had a severe coughing fit and his lips turned blue. They again asked their pediatrician what to do. This time they recommended Shelley and Albert take Daniel to Children’s Minnesota.

While at the emergency department at Children’s Minnesota, baby Daniel started coughing and his oxygen levels dropped. They dropped so low Daniel was immediately admitted and placed on oxygen. After multiple tests, Daniel’s care team diagnosed him with pertussis, also known as whooping cough.


Daniel is put on ECMO

After being diagnosed, Daniel’s health continued to decline. His lungs weren’t providing the oxygen his body needed. After discussing other treatment options, Daniel’s care team decided to put him on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, otherwise known as ECMO.

“We thought we were losing our little boy,” Shelley said. “But, he proved us wrong.”

What is ECMO?

ECMO lifesaving treatment for the most critically ill babies, children and teens. When your child’s heart or lungs are unable to do their jobs, ECMO can take over temporarily with a mechanical blood pump and artificial lung. The treatment keeps blood flowing and carrying vital oxygen while your child’s body has a chance to recover.

Daniel’s fight on ECMO

Daniel had to stay on ECMO for 50 days – an extremely long time for this treatment. After he was taken off, Daniel’s care team placed a tracheostomy, or trach, and a feeding tube. “Once they did that, we could start cuddling our baby again,” Shelley said.

Daniel continued to have to have surgeries after being taken off ECMO. He also had many therapy sessions like physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Daniel goes home

After five and a half months, 173 days to be exact, Daniel was finally healthy enough to go home! After being home for only a month, Daniel was doing so well he had his feeding tube and trach removed. “That was the first time in six months our baby was tube free!” said Shelley.

Since then, Daniel has been doing amazing. “He’s delayed in development, but all that matters is he is here with us,” Shelley said.

Shelley and Albert can’t thank Children’s Minnesota enough. “Without all your hard work, Daniel may not have survived, but you fought with us even when we thought there was nothing left,” said Shelley. “You all helped save Daniel and we are forever grateful.”

Alexandra Rothstein