One of the joys of the holiday season is that we become more aware of the magic and miracles that surround us 365 days a year.
A century ago, Ashley Graber would have described her encounter with Dr. Jennifer Needle as a visit from an angel. Today, it’s just one of the everyday miracles made possible by telemedicine.
In 2011, Graber’s daughter MaLea was diagnosed with a high fever and virus and sent home for rest. When her condition worsened, a physician at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, Oregon requested a teleconsultation with Dr. Needles, a pediatric intensivist at Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
Needle determined that MaLea had meningococcemia, a life-threatening bacterial infection. Her doctors inserted a breathing tube before airlifting her to the OHSU hospital.
It took 111 days for MaLea to recover. “I think telemedicine is the greatest thing ever invented,” says Graber. “I don’t think she’d be alive if not for that.”
This holiday season, think of all the people like MaLea – including thousands of stroke and cardiac patients – who are home celebrating with their families thanks to telemedicine. Like the angel in It’s A Wonderful Life, telemedicine offers a special gift: a second chance.