By all appearances, Nicholas is a happy, healthy baby. But until recently, his very survival was questionable.

Nicholas was born with cardiomyopathy, a disease that causes the heart to lose its ability to pump blood. After a short stay in a local hospital, Nicholas was transferred to Children’s with congestive heart failure.

“I was scared out of my mind,” says his mom, Kelly. “He was lying there, not moving, with wires attached to every part of his tiny body. He looked totally helpless. It was just tragic.”

To support his failing heart, the Children’s Critical Care team used a life-saving technology called ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. ECMO takes over the role of the heart and lungs by utilizing a blood pump and an artificial lung machine. The machine adds oxygen to the blood and returns it to the body. During ECMO treatment, the damaged organs can rest and heal.

Children’s is one of the few hospitals in the Southeast that offers ECMO to both children and adults. And, as the 400th patient to undergo ECMO treatment at Children’s, Nicholas took his place in hospital history.

At one month, Nicholas was well enough to go home. But Kelly still shudders to think of how things might have been different. "When Nicholas was born, there was a good chance that he would die. The doctors and nurses at Children’s definitely saved his life. If it weren’t for them, he simply wouldn’t be here."