When Abegael Archembault was just eight weeks old, her mother, Victoria, noticed that she began refusing food, seemed uncomfortable when being held and, when she cried, almost no noise came out. Concerned, Victoria took her to a local hospital where an X-ray showed that one of Abegael’s lungs had completely collapsed. Recognizing the severity of the case, doctors immediately rushed her to Tufts Medical Center in Boston where she was diagnosed with respiratory failure caused by a severe Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) infection.
Abegael spent six weeks in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) under the care of Karen Fauman, MD, three faculty physicians trained in critical care and a specialized PICU nursing staff.
Abegael's condition was so severe that Tufts Medical Center doctors were forced to put her in an induced coma and intubate her. She was so sick that at one point Victoria had her baptized in the hospital room, fearing that she might pass when her respiratory failure suddenly worsened due to pneumonia.
“I remember I laid my head on Abegael and asked her to stay,” Victoria said.
The critical care team then started Abegael on a combination of antibiotics and moved her from a conventional ventilator to an oscillator, which is a high frequency ventilator that supports patients with respiratory failure so severe that a normal ventilator will no longer help. After a few perilous weeks, with doctors and nurses remaining almost constantly at her bedside, Abegael finally recovered and was able to be weaned back to a normal ventilator and was finally extubated. She was able to be discharged home, just after Valentine’s Day.
“I cried when I got to hold her for the first time,” Victoria recalled.
“The doctors cried too. She was so young, I had never seen her laugh or smile and the fact I get to see that everyday now is amazing. She's all smiles and so am I. I'm just grateful every day.”
Abegael’s Tufts Medical Center success story is not unique. Many other children – and their parents – benefit from the personalized patient and family-centered care at our hospital.
Support of the Tufts Medical Center Fund provides important resources for physicians and other hospital staff who put the needs of patients and families at the center of everything they do. It allows our caregivers to put research into practice, providing leading edge care for patients like Abegael every day.
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