Meet Angelica.

Despite doctors’ reassurances, Angelica Hale’s parents knew something was wrong. Their normally vivacious little girl was in pain and getting sicker. They took her to the Emergency Department at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and learned her condition was more serious than they could have imagined.

“My wife called me the next morning and told me they were already starting surgery to put in a chest tube,” said James Hale, Angelica’s father. “It was nothing but bad news.”

James and his wife, Eva Norman, learned that their daughter had pneumonia. The infection was so severe that her lung had begun to bleed into her abdomen. The 5-year-old developed sepsis, a serious blood infection that devastated her kidneys.

“Her blood plasma was polluted, and her lungs were just ravaged,” Angelica’s dad said. “It was earth shattering. We were rocked.”

Angelica was admitted to our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where her healthcare team worked for three days to stabilize her and fight the infection. James credits neonatologist Munir Kapasi, M.D., with saving Angelica’s life during those chaotic first days.

“Her blood plasma was polluted, and her lungs were just ravaged,” Angelica’s dad said. “It was earth shattering. We were rocked.”

Angelica was transported by helicopter to our Egleston hospital, home to one of the Southeast’s few ECMO centers, where she was put on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for 12 days. “We thought we were about to lose our daughter,” James said. “We had no idea how long this journey would be.”

Once Angelica was stable enough, she had surgery to repair her lung, which had lost nearly half its function. But, because of the blood infection, she developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS); her kidneys were barely functioning.

The Hales were grateful for Angelica’s healthcare team. “The doctors and nurses absolutely kept us informed,” Angelica’s dad said. “They were great.”

“The doctors and nurses absolutely kept us informed,” Angelica’s dad said. “They were great.”

Angelica was on dialysis since for more than a year to filter pollutants from her blood, but her kidneys were scarred. She needed a transplant.

After regaining her strength and continuing peritoneal dialysis over the following summer, Angelica returned to Children’s. Eva was a near-perfect match to donate a kidney to her daughter.

Angelica received her mom’s kidney and bounced back quickly. Now a joyful 6-year-old, Angelica is ready to get back to focusing on being a kid. “I’m really glad we brought her to Children’s,” James said. “We’re so, so lucky. Taking her to a pediatric hospital saved her life.”

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