Cares For Kids: Miracle Kid Ian Galek

Ian Galek of Savannah, Wayne County was 20 months old when he had a fight for his life in the pediatric intensive care unit at Golisano Children's Hospital. (WHAM photo)

Savannah, N.Y. (WHAM) - It was a picture perfect moment: a little red-haired boy in a wagon surrounded by pumpkins.

Just two days later, 20 month-old Ian Galek of Savannah, Wayne County would be in a fight for his life in the pediatric intensive care unit at Golisano Children's Hospital. He had suddenly become sick with what at first appeared to be a bug.

By the time Ian got to the hospital, he was in septic shock.

"They take him in the room and they basically, we step back and they came in and they took over," said Seth Galek, Ian's dad.

Ian's condition grew worse. Fast. Doctors believe Ian's Down syndrome may have contributed to his rapid decline. Despite respiratory treatment, his heart and lungs began to fail. Soon after, he was treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO. Doctors said it was his last chance.

"I called our cardiothoracic surgeon and said, 'We're going to need ECMO because I can't make his lungs do it. And we have to take over completely,'" said Dr. Heather Reyes, Pediatric Critical Care Fellow at Golisano Children's Hospital. “If he gets on it (ECMO) it will be a good thing, but the whole process could kill him. I've never had to tell a parent so quickly, so many times."

After 11 days of ECMO treatment, Ian's heart was finally strong enough to be off the ECMO machine. It was a victory and everyone celebrated.

“Everybody's waiting and they finally came in and told us that he had made it," said Christa Galek, Ian's mom. "And everybody's crying, we don't even know these people, and the other mom's saying, 'Oh we're so happy for you!'”

The Galeks later found out it was parainfluenza that made Ian sick in the first place. Most kids would have developed a cold. Ian was in the hospital for a month.

“God has a purpose for Ian, there's no question about that...because that was too much,” Seth said.

The Galeks say this whole experience, although terrifying, also changed their family for the better. The children are more patient and loving. Ian is now a healthy two year-old who loves it when his siblings sing to him. Due to his ECMO treatment, Ian suffered a minor stroke but thanks to therapy he's back to where he was before and continues to thrive.

"Life is precious, you can't take it for granted," Seth said. "So when it comes to these kids, work is nice, there are nice places to live, nice cars... they're not important."

To support patients like Ian and the new improvements at the hospital (including a dedicated ECMO area), donate here. Join us Thursday as we join our radio partners Mix 100.5 and WHAM1180 for the Cares For Kids Radiothon for Golisano Children's Hospital.

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