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'Looking at a mirror reflection' | Respiratory therapist at CHOA was once a patient

Fredrick Menard knows what it's like to be a patient at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Nearly thirty years later, he's caring for patients like himself.

ATLANTA — “My first time caring for a patient on ECMO was a surreal moment. It was like looking at a mirror reflection, picturing myself as the baby,” Fredrick Menard said.

That's because just a mere eight hours after being born, Fredrick's lungs collapsed and the newborn had to be transferred to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston Hospital. Doctors there immediately placed him on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, better known as an ECMO machine.

With it being a fairly new technology in 1991, the ECMO machine was considered risky, according to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. However, the Menard family took the chance. After five days on the machine, Fredrick was able to go home after a couple of weeks. He was only the fifth patient at Children’s to be placed on ECMO. 

Nearly 30 years later, Fredrick finds himself caring for patients in a similar situation he was once in. He's a respiratory therapist and just recently celebrated three years at Children's, according to staff. 

For Frederick, working with infants and children's in the hospital that saved his life is a dream come true. 

“I had to take in that moment and say to myself, ‘Wow, I am taking care of an ECMO patient', and I am actually living out my dream.”

Not only does Fredrick get the chance to impact the lives of patients at Children's, one of his colleagues was actually on his care team when he was a patient!