Matthew's Pediatric ED Story

Jun 6, 2019

Matthew Rodriguez, Pediatric ED patient, Palm Beach Children's Hospital

Matthew RodriguezMost people might agree that there are few things better than a pool day with family and close friends, spending quality time with those dearest to you. Although these get-togethers are all about having fun, parents of little ones know that safety is always a priority, especially around bodies of water. However, no matter how many precautions you take or how many sets of eyes are watching, accidents can never be completely avoided. Unfortunately, this is something that Cynthia Morelos experienced firsthand with her almost two year old son, Matthew.

“We were at a friend’s house and my kids spent the day in and out of the pool, but it was finally time to go,” recalls Cynthia. “My two older children, Jaden and Trinity, jumped in the pool to say goodbye to their friends who were still in, while my two youngest, Rocky and Matthew, played off to the side. But after seeing his big brother and sister, my baby boy did what he normally does and copied his older siblings.”

Because the family was heading out, Matthew was no longer wearing the floaties required for safe water play. In that split second, the toddler went beneath the pool surface and quickly sank towards the bottom. Thankfully, Jaden immediately reacted and pulled his little brother out and, to everyone’s relief, a family friend was able to get Matthew breathing again after successfully performing CPR. Cynthia and her husband, Erick, called 911 and within a few short minutes first responders arrived. Although these efforts helped relieve Matthew’s body of the pool water he had ingested, he was still breathing erratically, so he was taken to the award-winning pediatric emergency department at Palm Beach Children’s Hospital.

Upon his arrival, the pediatric ED team promptly began assessment and treatment. They pumped Matthew’s stomach to make sure no excess liquid was left behind, and performed a CT scan to check if his brain had been affected by lack of oxygen. The results showed that his brain had begun to swell, so he was transferred to the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). While admitted, Matthew underwent various tests to monitor his organs, and respiratory treatments to help ensure that his lungs didn’t endure long-term side effects. Although this would be a traumatizing experience for any family, Cynthia and Erick were comforted by the compassion, affection and comfort shown by the team that cared for their little boy.

“It’s easy to judge a situation like this if you don’t live it yourself, but my husband and I were so relieved that the only thing that mattered to everyone involved in my son’s care was returning him to us as he was before this incident,” shares Cynthia. “We truly felt like the nurses, therapists, Child Life team, and everyone else cared about us as a family, not just as a patient and visitors.”

After spending a few days in the PICU, and receiving less intensive care afterwards for a short while, Matthew was ready to go home to his parents and older siblings. Thanks to the highly-skilled team, Cynthia’s “little monster,” as she calls him, was able to once again try his best at keeping up with his siblings and accompany his mom during her daily routines.

“I’m very involved with Jaden’s school and Matthew always tags along, so he’s sort of become everyone’s little brother,” says Cynthia. “The whole time he was in the hospital, there was a team of people rooting for him to come back as the same crazy little Matthew they knew and loved. Our family and friends will always remember Palm Beach Children’s Hospital as a main factor for this wish becoming a reality.”