It was nothing but bright sunshine at Cohen Children’s Medical Center when Karla Duarte, the first teenager in American to be treated for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) stopped by to thank the medical team on the one-year anniversary of her discharge.
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From left: Karla Duarte, 17, with Dr. James Schnieder, Cohen Children’s Medical Center staff and Dr. Todd Sweberg. Karla survived her battle with COVID-19 thanks to the dedicated team at Cohen Children’s Medical Center and the use of ECMO. Credit Northwell Health.
When Karla, 17, was discharged on April 14, 2020, she left the hospital in a wheelchair to the sounds of cheers and applause, guided by her mother, Ana Tejada, and James Schneider, MD, Chief, Pediatric Critical Care at Cohen Children’s.
Ms. Tejada was informed on April 4th, 2020, by Dr. Schneider that there was only one treatment option left to save her daughter, who was suffering from severe respiratory failure. That option was to place Karla on ECMO, a machine that would serve as her lungs by adding oxygen to the blood and removing carbon dioxide. This is a relatively harsh procedure; and, to the best of Dr. Schneider’s knowledge, this was the first time ECMO had been used on a young patient with COVID.
This last-ditch effort was successful. Karla left the hospital on April 19th last year. During her recovery, she relied on a walker and the help of her loving family to get from place to place. Thanks to their support and a lot of therapy, Karla is now exercising and excelling in her studies. A recent high school graduate, Karla plans to attend Molloy College in the fall. She is considering a career in physical therapy in honor of the team of therapists who helped with her recovery.
After the reunion with Karla and her mother, Dr. Schneider said, "There is nothing more gratifying than to see Karla doing so well and looking so happy. She made an absolutely amazing recovery and our entire team of doctor and nurses – all the people who treated her – couldn’t be happier."
When asked what she wanted to say to her doctor, a clearly emotional Karla said, "There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of Dr. Schneider and all the people who took such good care of me at Cohen Children’s," she said. "I can’t believe it’s been a year since I left the hospital. Coming back here on the anniversary of my discharge is very emotional for me. I can never say ‘thank you’ enough to these wonderful people."
About Northwell Health
Northwell Health is New York State’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, 830 outpatient facilities and more than 16,600 affiliated physicians. We care for over two million people annually in the New York metro area and beyond, thanks to philanthropic support from our communities. Our 76,000 employees – 18,900 nurses and 4,800 employed doctors, including members of Northwell Health Physician Partners – are working to change health care for the better. We’re making breakthroughs in medicine at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research. We're training the next generation of medical professionals at the visionary Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. For information on our more than 100 medical specialties, visit Northwell.edu and follow us @NorthwellHealth on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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