Meet Emmily: 2022 Family Advocacy Day Champion

Emmily is participating in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day from June 12-14. Through this event, Emmily and her family will discuss her health journey, Children’s Minnesota’s role in providing her with necessary health care services, and why the public and our elected officials must invest in the future of patients like Emmily.

When Emmily was 13, she tested positive for influenza B. She started to have severe breathing issues when her mother, Amy, took her to Urgent Care. They were immediately sent to the emergency room at Children’s Minnesota where doctors determined Emmily was critically ill—suffering from respiratory issues including an acute respiratory infection (influenza B), bilateral acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). She also had pneumonia and was in severe septic shock. 

Emmily was fragile, so doctors placed her on a breathing tube and put her in a medically induced coma to minimize stress on her body. 18 specialists assisted in restoring her health, but progress was slow. 

On the 11th day of Emmily’s coma, doctors placed her on a extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to help her lungs rest and heal. After five weeks, doctors performed a tracheostomy, a surgical opening in Emmily’s trachea to help her breathe. “It was during the first few days of having the trach that she started waking and moving ever so slightly,” said Amy.

After she woke from her coma, Emmily still needed to be on ECMO — a rare occurrence. After a few weeks of being awake on ECMO, a team of her health care providers were able to assist Emmily into a sitting position — the first time in over 40 days. In the end, Emmily had spent a total of 10 weeks on the ECMO machine. 

Emmily spent the next few weeks in the hospital recovering and regaining strength. She received inpatient rehabilitation including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and music therapy. She also received outpatient physical therapy sessions—including aquatic therapy. 

“We are so thankful for Children’s Minnesota,” says Amy. “They provided excellent, specialized care for my daughter.”

Today, Emmily is 18 years old and doing well. She’s remarkably healthy and her lungs are steadily improving. She enjoys hanging out with her friends and playing volleyball and golf.  She still sees her doctors for annual pulmonary and lung testing. 

Emmily joined the hospital’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a dedicated group of patients and siblings of patients, ages 10 to 18, that offer practical ideas on how Children’s Minnesota can focus on the special needs of children and teens. “I joined YAC so I could help other teenagers have a positive experience at Children’s Minnesota,” Emmily said. “Just like I did.”

Read more about Emmily’s health care journey.

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