Felix's ECMO Success Story

Published on: 11/07/2014
Felix Bueno was a few months shy of his fifth birthday when developed a cold that just didn’t want to go away. At the advice of his pediatrician, Felix’s parents, Roberto and Tora, rushed him to Nicklaus Children's when he was having difficulty breathing. “His lips turned blue and we thought we were losing him,” recalls Mr. Bueno of that difficult day.

Felix was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Nicklaus Children's Hospital where doctors learned Felix had been suffering from an intense pneumonia. Little Felix was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and had to undergo extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a life-saving technique that mimics the natural function of the heart and lungs, allowing a child to rest while natural healing of the affected organs takes place. Nicklaus Children's has the longest experience in treating infants and children with ECMO.

Felix underwent round-the-clock care by a specialized medical team while on the machine that served as his temporary lungs, manually pumping oxygenated blood into his heart. After three weeks of living on ECMO, doctors felt he was strong enough to be weaned off and quickly made a full recovery.

Dr. Marcelo Laufer, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Nicklaus Children's Hospital, says “The treatment with ECMO saved his life.  ECMO is a treatment in which the function of the lungs is temporally performed by a machine while the lung tissue is healing. But there is no such a thing as a miracle machine without a medical team.  We are fortunate to have a one of a kind ECMO team composed of intensivists, surgeons, nurses and respiratory therapists who can make this possible on a daily basis.”

The Bueno family had many reasons to celebrate at their son’s fifth birthday party and they say they are forever grateful to Nicklaus Children's to be able to celebrate many more birthdays with their son. “You would never know that Felix went through all of that, said Mr. Bueno of his son’s recovery. He is a vibrant little boy who now plays soccer, swims and loves the outdoors.”

“I am so thankful, not only to the amazing doctors, but also to the nurses who took so much care of our little one. We built strong relationships with them that we will carry with us forever,” said Mr. Bueno."

The Bueno family occasionally visits with the doctors and nurses who treated their toddler and will be attending a reunion for patients who underwent the ECMO procedure at Nicklaus Children's Hospital this Saturday.
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