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Published on March 30, 2016

MU Children’s Hospital Patient, Medical Team Earn Prestigious ICU Heroes Award

Columbia girl continues to visit hospital staff every week two years after accident that left her critically injured

Maya Quattrocchi delivering donuts

Frank Quattrocchi and his daughter, Maya, prepare to take doughnuts into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at MU Children’s Hospital. They bring doughnuts to the unit every Saturday.

Every Saturday morning, you will find a little girl delivering doughnuts to employees at MU Children’s Hospital. It’s just part of 8-year-old Maya Quattrocchi’s Saturday morning routine — she delivers the treats, along with smiles and hugs, to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the hospital.

“We come here every week to feed the angels,” said Maya Quattrocchi, who lives with her parents in Columbia, Missouri. “I love coming here.”

Maya talks to Carroll King, MD, during a recent visit to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at MU Children’s Hospital. King is one of the doctors who cared for Maya during her two-month stay in the PICU.

Those “angels” are the people who cared for Maya while she spent 59 days in the PICU. Maya was run over by a vehicle on March 30, 2014, when she was 6 years old. She suffered multiple broken bones, injuries to her heart, lungs, kidneys, esophagus and significant blood loss that caused her to go into shock, making it impossible for her heart to pump enough blood to her body. She underwent more than 40 surgical procedures.

“For the first two weeks, we didn’t have a lot of positive news, and we didn’t know if she would make it,” said Venkataraman Ramachandran, MD, pediatric surgeon at MU Children’s Hospital. “We probably had to replace her entire blood supply two or three times, but she kept gradually making improvements. And even then, it was still several months later before we had any idea that she was going to get along this well.”

Ramachandran, whom Maya affectionately calls “Uncle Ram,” performed more than 32 of the 40 medical procedures that Maya underwent.

Today, Maya is able to play, run, skip and dance just like other kids her age. She is back in school full time and getting above-average grades in her second-grade class.

The story of her care and remarkable recovery is considered a shining example of how an intensive care unit should function, and Maya, her family and the PICU team recently were recognized with the prestigious ICU Heroes award from the Society of Critical Care Medicine. MU Health Care’s critical care team is the only team in the country to receive the award this year.

Maya hugs Audi Ruffel, RN, during a recent visit to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at MU Children’s Hospital. Ruffel is one of the nurses who for cared Maya during Maya’s two-month stay in the PICU.

“Each department within the hospital has a job to do, and all of that is organized and works together,” Ramachandran said. “We had a road map of what to do, but you have to adapt to circumstances. One person alone cannot do this. She needed the collaboration of the full pediatric trauma team, and her family also played a huge role.”

Maya’s family was always by her side and remained positive, never doubting she would be OK.

“Kids take cues from their parents, and that along with her bubbly personality kept her going and factored into her healing,” Ramachandran said.

Maya, her family and the MU Health Care critical care team recently accepted the ICU Heroes award at a national conference of the Society of Critical Care Medicine in Orlando, Florida.

“There were hundreds and hundreds of doctors in the audience,” said Frank Quattrocchi, Maya’s father. “She did great; I was bawling like a baby. These other doctors were anxious to talk with Maya’s team to learn from them.”

Even two years after the accident, the Quattrocchis continue their Saturday ritual of thanking the care team who helped Maya, but it is more than just a “thank you.” When Maya steps foot onto the PICU, she is among friends, and each week those same doctors and nurses who helped her when she needed it most marvel at her recovery and are reminded why they chose careers in medicine.

“It’s a chance for them to see how well she is doing,” Quattrocchi said. “During our first visits, she had a bad limp. They got to see that improve, and now she runs and jumps into their arms.”

“It’s amazing,” said Audi Ruffel, RN, one of the nurses who cared for Maya. “We provided the care, but it was really Maya who did the hard work. She always exceeded our expectations.”

During a recent visit to the PICU, Maya skipped down the hall, care-free, offering up hugs to all of her “angels.”

The MU Children’s Hospital critical care team that cared for Maya included four pediatric critical care physicians, two pediatric critical care nurses, a pediatric surgeon, a pediatric critical care pharmacist, a pediatric rehabilitation physician, a pediatric cardiologist, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon and a pediatric ear, nose and throat physician. In addition, she had as many as 30 other health care providers involved during her recovery.

Maya Quattrocchi

Maya skips down the hallway of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at MU Children’s Hospital. She suffered multiple broken bones, injuries to her heart, lungs, kidneys, esophagus and other organs after she was run over by a car in 2014. Today, there are few outward signs of her injuries.

Download high-resolution photos of Maya Quattrocchi visiting the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at MU Children’s Hospital.