Sara’s Journey with Children’s Hospital

Sara’s first unassisted step which was taken at Children’s in January, 1988.

Sara’s first unassisted step which was taken at Children’s in January, 1988.

Back in November, 1986 ECMO therapy was still highly experimental, but at 2 1/2 days old, it was Sara’s only viable option. She had been diagnosed with Persistent Fetal Circulation at a medical center in Syracuse, NY.

Her journey began in a very small town near the Canadian border called Potsdam. On a Thursday night during the season’s first really bad snowstorm, Sara was born via emergency C-Section. Because of her deteriorating condition she was transported to the next level hospital in Watertown, NY at first light. By the next morning her condition was still deteriorating, so she was transferred to another hospital in Syracuse. Then, due to her deteriorating condition, she was airlifted to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC early Sunday morning. I followed via commercial flight and arrived at Children’s Hospital late morning. My wife flew to Pittsburgh and was at Children’s by late that Sunday afternoon, and this was after she underwent a C-Section on Thursday night. No force on earth was going to keep her from her baby girl’s bedside.

Sara was put on ECMO that afternoon and successfully came off that Wednesday on her first try – she was the first to do so at Children’s at that time. It took another 3 weeks or so for her to recover from the negative side effects of all of the aggressive therapies she had received to keep her alive until she reached Children’s. We spent every day at her bedside until her release.

So there you have it, Sara’s journey. Dr. Ann Thompson was the head of the NICU then, and she and all of the staff were more than wonderful to us. As we, the new parents, were in a total state of shock.

And now you know why we have supported Children’s financially for the past 30 years and will continue to do so as long as we can.

Sara and her family will be walking on June 3 at Walk for Children’s. If you want to walk or donate, please visit