On the afternoon of Dec. 4, 2012, I took my 3-week-old son, John, to the pediatrician for a routine weight check. John had the winter sniffles and had been sleepier than usual but I wasn’t particularly concerned since there were no apparent signs of fever. But that changed the moment the pediatrician saw him and suspected respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Within minutes, we were in an ambulance bound for the nearest hospital. When they called for a helicopter to transport John to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, I went numb. After a flurry of activity and reassuring words from the flight crew, I saw the blades of “John’s” helicopter as my husband and I rushed down I-75 from Marietta to Egleston hospital.
Given his critical state, the transport crew brought John straight to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) upon arrival at the hospital. He had severe pneumonia and RSV, a fatal combination for tiny babies with no immunity. Now we discussed extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), and heard phrases like “50/50 chance of survival.”