Luke Emmerling – Actue Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Learn more about Luke's experience with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome at Children's Hospital.

Like many boys, Luke Emmerling is always on the go, endlessly curious, and even a little rambunctious at times. In November of 2007, 3-year-old Luke was playing in the family’s living room when he became tangled in the beaded chain of the vertical window blinds.

Stunned, his mother, Amy, immediately removed the cord from Luke’s neck and began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. While Luke began to take strained breaths, his pulse remained weak. Within moments of dialing 911, an ambulance arrived at their home in Plum Borough to transport Luke to the Benedum Pediatric Trauma Center at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Following a CT scan and additional testing, doctors determined Luke developed acute respiratory distress syndrome due to the lack of oxygen reaching his lungs and required heart-lung bypass in order to survive. Upon receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation treatment (ECMO), Luke’s condition began to improve. He spent two weeks in the hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, returning home without any resulting injuries to his brain or lungs.

The Emmerling family is forever grateful for the expert care Luke received. “This is the worst time of your life, but it’s also the best time when you realize and appreciate you have a place like UPMC Children’s available to you,” says Amy.