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Marco is a Fortnite enthusiast and happily plays the video game any chance he gets. Just like the players in the game who battle to stay alive, Marco knows a thing or two about fighting to survive.

When his mom, Anna, was pregnant with twins, a routine ultrasound revealed that one of the babies had a problem. The family was referred to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Center for Advanced Fetal Care, where treatment began even before the twins were born.

Marco had Eagle-Barrett syndrome. It’s a rare condition more commonly called “prune belly” because the stomach has a wrinkled appearance, making it look like the dried fruit.

Marco’s parents soon met Roger Voigt, MB, ChB, FRACS, chief of pediatric surgery and urology, at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital (UMCH), who laid out a plan of what surgeries to expect and when they would happen even before Marco was born. 

“Treatment for prune belly varies depending on how severe the case is,” explains Dr. Voigt. The plan that Dr. Voigt developed for Marco included 8 surgeries to treat the condition.

Additional UMCH Care Inspires the Family

Then at the age of 6, Marco caught a viral form of pneumonia. He was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at UMCH where his family thought he would spend a couple days recuperating. It did not go as planned, and Marco ended up staying more than two months in the PICU. That included 32 days on what is commonly called ECMO — Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation — a form of life support that helps patients breathe when their heart and lungs are failing.

The family credits UMCH with saving Marco’s life — twice. The care Marco received left a lasting impression on the family, including Marco’s older sister, who is now pursuing nursing school so she can one day become a PICU nurse. As for Marco, he wants to grow up to become an inventor, and he has his eyes on creating a new kind of hover board.

Are you looking for a pediatric specialist? Call the UM Children’s Hospital at 410-328-5887.