When Amir, lovingly called “Pablo,” was 11-months-old, he started experiencing breathing issues. At first, it was thought to be asthma but it didn’t seem to be getting any better.

One day, he lost consciousness, and his mom, Patricia, rushed him to a local hospital.

After first treating him for asthma, the doctors soon suspected that Pablo had leukemia, but his local hospital didn’t have the pediatric specialists he would need for treatment. He was transferred to the Jonathan Jaques Children’s Cancer Institute at MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach. Soon after, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

When a child has leukemia—cancer of the blood cells—their bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells, which means they don’t fight infection like normal blood cells and eventually overcrowd the working cells. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) affects white blood cells called myeloid cells, which are immature and normally develop into different types of blood cells. This means that when someone has AML, all of their blood cell lines are affected.

Pablo's 6th Birthday

Pablo had been displaying symptoms for a while, including wheezing and low oxygen saturation. Unfortunately, his organs started failing. He was moved to the Cherese Mari Laulhere Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Miller Children’s & Women’s, where he had a breathing tube inserted and was placed on a ventilator to support his lungs. While remaining in a medically induced coma on and off for eight months, he continued to receive chemotherapy to treat his cancer.

Although his organs were failing, the care team at Miller Children’s & Women’s never quit, nor did Pablo or his mom, who continuously prayed for his recovery. Finally, there was a turning point when Pablo slowly started to get better and was able to come out of his medically induced coma.

After almost a year in the PICU, Pablo returned home with the support of a gastrojejunostomy (GJ) tube to vent his stomach for air and drainage while also providing him with the nutrition that he needed. Although stable, Pablo did have to return to the hospital a few times due to complications.

When Pablo first came out of his medically induced coma, he struggled to walk since he had been confined to a bed for a sustained amount of time. The Miller Children’s & Women’s Rehabilitation Center worked with Pablo while he was in the PICU to help him regain his strength.

Now at 6 years old, Pablo is in remission from cancer, and he can walk, breathe and eat independently. Pablo continues to meet with his multi-disciplinary care team at the Cherese Mari Laulhere Children’s Village. He sees gastroenterologists to confirm he’s eating well, while endocrinologists ensure he’s growing strong, hematologists continue to check his remissions status, and cardiologists and pulmonologists make sure his heart and lungs are healthy.

Even though Pablo has experienced more than many will ever experience in their lifetime, he remains happy and healthy while he runs, plays soccer, and learns his alphabet and numbers.

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