AP NEWS

Kansas teen with unexplained lung condition returns home

February 1, 2019

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A teen who became the first patient at a Kansas City hospital to walk while on life support has spent more than a year pushing the boundaries of her recovery from unexplained lung failure, and now she’s finally ready to return home.

Zei Uwadia left Children’s Mercy Hospital on Thursday to continue recovering at her home in Wichita, Kansas, the Kansas City Star reported.

Uwadia, who turned 17 on Friday, inspired thousands of people who watched YouTube videos of her walking down the hospital’s halls while on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), an invasive form of life support. The large machine would pump blood out of her heart, remove carbon dioxide, add oxygen and then pump blood back in, a process that allowed her lungs to rest.

Doctors still don’t know what caused Uwadia’s lungs to fail, but she’s no longer on ECMO. The machine helped keep Uwadia alive for 6 months, which is double the amount of time any patient at Children’s Mercy has been on the machine before her.

Uwadia now uses oxygen tanks and a tracheostomy — a tube in her neck that helps her breathe.

Her doctors were hesitant to allow her to return home. Usually, patients should rely on machines for only 30 percent of the work to breathe before they’re discharged. Uwadia is still 40 percent reliant.

But Uwadia pushed for her release and medical staff worked on a discharge plan that required her to return to the hospital every three weeks for outpatient care.

“I’m excited to have more freedom,” Uwadia said. “I won’t be confined to this room or the hospital halls. I can go outside. I’ll feel more normal. Not completely normal, but more.”

Her family is grateful for the hospital staff’s care, but said they’re ready to be home.

“They’ve saved her life, and I feel like there’s no medication at this time that could supplant the benefits of home for her spirit,” said Uwadia’s mom, Brie Kerschen.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com