Born just under two pounds after 23 weeks of gestation, Joshua Latouche knows how to put up a fight. Despite his strength though, immediately after birth he was intubated and placed on oxygen to support his underdeveloped body.
“He just needed a little help breathing,” said Rhonda Richardson, Joshua's mother. “His lungs were always strong, but every time they tried to wean him off the breathing tube, he didn’t tolerate it very well. I literally lived in the NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] at the hospital near my home and felt so tired, so down. But whenever I called his name, there was a smile on his face. I thought, if he could smile, who am I to be depressed? He inspired me.”
In January 2015, after repeated attempts to extubate him, Joshua was transferred to the only Level IV Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Hudson Valley at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. Shortly after Joshua’s arrival, Dr. Tali Lando and her team performed a tracheotomy and inserted a tracheal tube. In March, Joshua went home without the need for a mechanical source of oxygen. Rhonda and Lerone Latouche, Joshua’s father, were overjoyed. Joshua was finally off the ventilator he had relied upon since birth, and his parents learned how to maintain his trach tube to aid his breathing.
When Joshua was 8 months old, Dr. Lando brought him back to the operating room to examine his airway. She determined that the cartilage ring in his windpipe was so narrow, “it was like breathing through a straw.” To repair the condition, known as subglottic stenosis, Joshua needed airway reconstructive surgery. But it couldn’t be done until he was big enough to harvest cartilage from his own ribs for the reconstruction.
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