13-month-old recovers from COVID after fighting for his life on heart-lung machine

Matteo was the first baby in New Mexico to be put on ECMO, a difficult decision his mother had...
Matteo was the first baby in New Mexico to be put on ECMO, a difficult decision his mother had to make for her baby.(UNM Health Sciences Newsroom)
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 10:01 AM CST
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NEW MEXICO (Gray News) – A 13-month-old boy is back home with his family, recovering from COVID-19, after being placed on a heart-lung machine.

Matteo Baca spent more than a month at The University of New Mexico Hospital fighting for his life, according to UNM Health Sciences Newsroom.

His mother, Shannarose Martinez, said her son was diagnosed with COVID in early December after Matteo had tubes placed in his ears for recurring ear infections.

Martinez said he was fussy, coughing and developed a fever so she took him to the emergency department.

Matteo was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 5.

“It would take him 45 minutes for him to recover from coughing,” Martinez told UNM, adding Matteo was lethargic and wasn’t eating or drinking.

She was surprised Matteo had contracted the virus. Martinez said their family was vaccinated and practicing COVID-19 safety measures.

While in the hospital, Martinez explained that Matteo seemed to be OK, until he suddenly wasn’t.

Doctors worked together to determine what Matteo’s best treatment would be, weighing all the options.

“It’s really a group effort,” explained Dr. Alia Broman, an assistant professor in the UNM Division of Pediatric Critical Care.

“Everything that goes into putting a kid on ECMO – it’s never something that we decide by ourselves. We’re always talking with the surgeons about whether or not they think the children would be good candidates and (whether) they’ve got a chance of survival because once you’re going on ECMO, you have about a 50-50 chance of mortality.”

According to UNM, Matteo was the first baby in New Mexico to be put on ECMO, a difficult decision Martinez had to make for her baby.

Martinez said she held his little hand for the nine days Matteo was on ECMO.

“Once he got on ECMO, each day he was getting better and better,” registered nurse Taylor Frederick told UNM. “It’s really rewarding to see a patient like Matteo at his sickest and then see him get off ECMO.”

UNM said Matteo was taken off ECMO Dec. 20, weaned off the ventilator by Christmas Eve, and discharged soon after.

“He’s recovered so well,” Martinez told UNM.

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