26 days ago
Hi, Dr. Friedlich. My name is Emmy, one of your ECMO baby patients 14 years ago at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. I am a perfectly normal eighth-grader but I never had a chance to thank you. I thank my mom for giving me life, but I want to thank you for saving my life. My mom showed me a heartbreaking picture of myself when I was in the hospital, but I was fortunate enough to survive because of you. It would be very paramount for me to visit the place that saved my life and the angel guardians who saved me and numerous infants like me. Thank you very much on Mother’s Day!!! Gratefully, Emmy
Emmy Chen's mother Linda Sun had no idea her teenage daughter was going to send this email to the doctor that helped save her life when she was but a few hours old.
Back in 2002, as Linda was recovering from her cesarean section, a doctor rushed into her room to tell her that her daughter needed to be transferred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles because her lungs were failing and she needed an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) bypass machine to help her breathe. A buildup of a waste material called meconium was trapped in her lungs (a condition called meconium aspiration syndrome), and blocking normal oxygen flow.
"When she came to us, Emmy’s condition was life-threatening," says Center for Fetal and Neonatal Medicine Director Philippe Friedlich, M.D., who was part of Emmy’s care team at the time. "ECMO was the only remaining treatment that could save her life." And it did.
Emmy was taken off ECMO after a few days, but remained at CHLA two more months as doctors monitored her condition. Emmy still required a feeding tube and oxygen support for a few months after she went home, but eventually was able to function on her own. -----
As she grew up, Emmy was curious about what happened and often asked her mother about the doctors who cared for her. On May 8, 2016, Emmy sent her heartfelt email to Dr. Friedlich, who was more than happy to grant her request for a visit to CHLA. "It’s very rare to receive an email from a past patient," says Friedlich. "In my career, no letter has ever touched me like that letter did."