Ambassador Highlight: Meet Isaiah

Isaiah Richardson

Immediately after his birth, Isaiah Richardson was struggling to breathe. He was rushed to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital for treatment and testing. Once here, hospital physicians determined he had meconium aspiration, a respiratory distress syndrome that occurs in newborns before, during or after delivery. Newborns who experience this syndrome have inhaled meconium, the fluid inside the amniotic sac, and the fluid blocks the baby’s airways. Physicians also discovered he had a hole in his heart.

Isaiah’s medical team placed him on life support using Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). This life-saving technology provides cardiac and respiratory support until the lungs can heal enough to provide adequate gas exchange.

Isaiah was on ECMO support for a week before his little lungs were able to work on their own again. After a month of receiving care in the children’s hospital, Isaiah was able to go home for the first time.

Sandra Sullivan, M.D., clinical associate professor in the department of pediatrics and division of neonatology — along with the entire care at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital — greatly helped Isaiah and his family. In addition to his medical care, therapeutic programs through the UF Health Child Life program helped to comfort Isaiah’s entire family.

“The programs provided helped our family to get our minds off of the chaos, which was most appreciated,” Isaiah’s mom, Nikki, said.

Donations to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals help fund programs like Child Life, which provide age-appropriate resources to pediatric patients to help them understand their medical care and the hospital environment. Donations also helped to purchase the ECMO machine that was instrumental in saving Isaiah’s life. Thanks to ECMO, along with the quick and diligent care of his world-renowned medical team, Isaiah celebrated his 7th birthday in September! Today, he is a cheerful and happy boy who loves being surrounded by his three older siblings. “After many follow-up appointments, Isaiah has been released from care from his cardiologist,” Nikki said. “He now lives a normal, full life.”

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