⚠ COVID-19 INFORMATION: Vaccine Information, Other Resources 

Michael: ‘Typical Two-Year-Old’ Following Airway Surgery

This summer, 2 ½-year-old Michael spent virtually every day playing safely in his backyard, running off excess energy. It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, this healthy little boy underwent surgery for a life-threatening airway disorder.

At birth, Michael was diagnosed with severe tracheomalacia, which occurs when the soft cartilage of the trachea collapses during breathing. Due to the severity of his symptoms, he was recommended for a tracheostomy at an area hospital that would remain in place for years.

A few weeks prior to his surgery, Michael contracted a respiratory virus and stopped breathing. Michael’s dad, Jeremy, performed CPR on his son —something he had done several times before — while waiting for an ambulance to come. They arrived in the middle of a nursing strike and were referred to Lurie Children’s.

“As it turned out, bringing Michael to Lurie Children’s was the best thing we could have done for him,” says Jeremy.

At Lurie Children’s, under the direction of expert pediatric head and neck surgeon, Taher Valika, MD, Michael was cared for by the Aerodigestive Program’s multidisciplinary group of specialists. These specialists treat children with complex breathing and swallowing disorders of the nose, mouth, throat, lungs, esophagus and stomach.

After experiencing a series of recurring blue spells, Michael underwent a minimally invasive procedure to strengthen his trachea and prevent his airway from collapsing. He was able to successfully avoid a tracheostomy, and prevent the need for long-term care.

Since Michael’s surgery, his choking episodes have stopped, and he’s needed only a couple of follow-up appointment with his surgeons, including one through telehealth.

“With COVID going on, the video appointment was safe, thorough and saved us a drive from Kankakee (more than 60 miles from downtown Chicago),” Jeremy said.

Today, Michael is a “perfect little angel, running around and being a typical two-year-old,” Jeremy said, adding “your kid is in the best hands possible at Lurie Children’s.”

Sign up for our Newsletter

Get health tips from our pediatric experts, news about ground-breaking research, and feel-good moments delivered right to your inbox.

Subscribe Now
Patient Stories

Related Posts

A Little More Hope Than Fear: Looking Back on Fetal Surgery for Emmie & Gracie

With the expertise and support of Dr. Shaaban and Lurie Children's Chicago Institue for Fetal Health, Annie gave birth to Emmie and Gracie. Today, the girls are healthy and living life to the fullest.

Read More

With Superhero Strength, Leo Defies Mental Health Stigmas

After being diagnosed with ADHD, Leo began working Lurie Children's Dr. John Parkhurst. Through therapy, Leo learned how to harness his skills and strengths to better communicate with his family and friends.

Read More

First Spinal Cord Stimulation Implant Relieves Isabella of Severe Chronic Nerve Pain

In 2021, 13-year-old Isabella started suffering from chronic nerve pain across her entire body. While the road to diagnosis took time, her eventual outcome thanks to Neurosurgeon Dr. Jeffrey Raskin was a life-changing one.

Read More