HCGH 40th Anniversary Story 2005: Saving a Tiny Life

Quick Thinking, Medical Expertise Save a Tiny Life

When nine-day-old Alex Torcaso arrived at the HCGH Emergency Room in May 2005, he was in shock and his parents were terrified and confused. Thanks to the quick thinking and extensive experience of the nursing staff and Medical Director David Monroe, M.D., Alex was diagnosed

with a congenital heart defect and treatment began immediately. Although he later required surgery,

it was the initial actions of the HCGH staff that saved his life.

The day before, Alex had been listless and was not eating. He even slept through the night, uncommon at his young age. “We had a regular pediatric appointment scheduled for that day,” says Alex’s mother, Christina Torcaso. “At the appointment, his temperature was very low. The pediatrician thought he had an infection and sent us to another hospital, but I grew up in Ellicott City and HCGH was my hospital, so we came here.

“We were worried and scared, and we parked right in front of the entrance with the car lights blinking,” explains Christina. “They led us right back to the pediatric unit. The staff told us Alex was critical and let us stay with him while they worked to save his life. During the entire ordeal, Dr. Monroe took the time to explain in detail what was happening. Dr. Monroe and the nurses called the neonatal specialist, who intubated Alex and put IVs in his head and in his arm. Alex was screaming. They ended up putting him in an induced coma and took a chest X-ray. Then, they told us that he was very sick. We are eternally grateful to Dr. Monroe and the HCGH staff, they were so caring.”

“Alex’s was one of those cases where we had to do some quick detective work to figure out what was going on,” says Dr. Monroe. “While looking at his symptoms and the results of some key tests, the team was able to determine that Alex had a narrowing of the aorta. Although we could not perform the necessary surgery here, we were able to take decisive action to stabilize Alex before transferring him.”

Alex is now a normal, healthy 8 year old with no restrictions; although he is under the care of a pediatric cardiologist whom he visits every two years. Alex and his younger brother have visited the hospital several times over the years, but thankfully only for normal boyhood injuries. Christina is grateful for the expertise of the entire pediatric team at HCGH, saying, “Howard County General diagnosed him and truly saved Alex’s life.”