Daniel fought to breathe without tubes



Donna was a traveling nurse when she first met Daniel. He was only 1 year old but had lived most of his life in foster care and already had many medical issues. He was born with a rare form of dwarfism that contributes to abnormal bone growth. He also suffered from a serious pulmonary condition called tracheomalacia. In Daniel’s case, the condition was life-threatening, and from his youngest years, he needed a tracheal tube to breathe at all times.

But Donna only saw a sweet, delightful little boy who needed a stable home. From the moment she met Daniel, the pair had a very strong bond. When Daniel was 2 years old, Donna adopted him into her family.

Fighting to survive

Even under Donna’s care, Daniel’s lung condition made it very difficult for him to breathe. His dwarfism also caused other medical issues.

“We didn’t know if Daniel would survive,” said Donna. 

Donna brought Daniel to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where he could receive coordinated care from some of the best pediatric specialists in the country. Daniel was treated by a wide variety of caretakers, and his multi-disciplinary treatment was carefully coordinated, which is critical for patients who have complex medical needs. The expert, integrated care he received helped Daniel not only survive beyond his diagnosis, but thrive.

Breathing without tubes

With the help of Children’s Colorado and Daniel’s willpower, he continued to make steady progress. Yet by age 6 he was still using a tracheotomy tube to breathe.

“We didn’t think he would ever be able to live without his breathing tubes, but his doctors wanted to give it a try,” said Donna.

At age 7, Daniel’s doctors made the impossible possible. Daniel’s breathing tubes were removed and he was able to breathe without a machine for the first time.

Daniel is now 10 years old and continues to do things that many considered impossible.  Now that his breathing tubes are out, he is learning to swim and recently earned a blue belt in karate.

“Daniel’s doctors have been extremely important in his life,” said Donna. “It’s amazing to me that he has no fear when he goes in for treatment because he knows he will be well cared for.”

As he grows and thrives, Daniel has become a leader in his household and helps take care of his three brothers and sister, all of whom have special needs.

“He’s really an old soul, a very big man in a small body,” said Donna. “The power of that little boy changed my whole life.”

Stay in touch with Children’s Colorado. Sign up for eNews.