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Thirty days spent on ECMO: Ollie’s incredible journey

Posted on Feb. 14, 2021 ( comments)
Ollie’s second long-term stay at Mary Bridge Children’s. Photo (right) Ollie’s siblings and dad read him a story. 

Chapter two: Ollie returns to the PICU

Less than two years after Oliver Strode’s first Mary Bridge Children’s experience, he became very sick with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). While the virus is very serious for any child, it was potentially fatal for Ollie. Within two days at the Mary Bridge Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), he was on a ventilator. Eventually his lungs completely stopped working, and he was put on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

“Oliver was on ECMO bypass for a really long time,” Mary Bridge Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Nurse, Molly Olsen, says. “There were many times when we didn’t think he was going to make it, but he would pull through.

He kept fighting and so did we.”

According to one of Ollie’s attending physicians at Mary Bridge Children’s, Tito Monge, MD, although ECMO can seem like an extreme option, in this case, it allowed Ollie’s body the time it needed to heal. Dr. Monge credits Ollie’s survival to the Strode family’s support, advocacy and willingness to make tough decisions alongside his care team.

During this second hospital stay, a donor-supported program called Beads of Courage helped Ollie and his mom, Sarah, through the medical hurdles. The program allows patients to collect beads for every procedure they overcome, such as blood draws, pokes and transfusions.

“Ollie earned a lot of beads during that time,” Sarah says. “And, while they were special for Ollie, I was the one who got excited to see the cart of beads rolling down the hall week after week. It meant we made it; he made it. Even the days we did not know if he would survive the next 24 hours, I would collect those beads, counting the pokes, the blood draws, the blood transfusions, the 5am x-rays.”

After more than two months in the PICU with the support of his family and the help of his care team, Ollie once again defied odds and was discharged.

Read to learn about how Ollie is doing today, with help from his Mary Bridge Children’s care team.

Initiatives like Beads of Courage are made possible thanks to philanthropic donations. You can help with a gift at

About The Author

Kortney Scroger

Kortney Scroger is a communication specialist for the MultiCare Foundations. She writes stories that connect readers to the impact of giving. You can reach her at [email protected].

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