Gino Quezada "Bulldozer"

Thirteen month old Gino Quezada is known as Bulldozer by his large family of relatives. Last Thanksgiving, the Quezada family who includes Gina and Aaron, his parents, along with his siblings decided to walk to their maternal grandparents’ house since it was only one block from where they lived. As soon as they arrived, requests to hold Gino erupted from the festive group. 

”Gino is the baby of the family,” said Aaron who owns and runs his own body shop. “He’s the only baby right now on that side of the family, so everybody wants to hold him, hug him, kiss him, and spend time with him. There were just so many people and it was just one of those things where you think about it and you never think it’s going to happen to you, I mean,” he continues, “Gina, my wife is lovingly chided by her father as being overprotective and he  accuses her of keeping Gino in a bubble.”

True to nature, once the Quezadas were settled in amongst all the other relatives, Gina snatched Gino as he was being passed around and held him with her on the sofa. He wriggled to be set free. “He kept fighting me to get off,” she said, “so I put him down so he could walk over to where my brother, my dad and Aaron were talking. I watched Gino standing there and playing.”

“Everybody was with him,” adds Aaron. “We never had a thought about the swimming pool in the backyard, but it happened.  We thought everything would be locked up. The back door, though, was open and led to the backyard. He fell in the pool and I heard a scream and we all ran out.” 

Gina would be first to arrive to pull her son out of the water. 

“We went into a panic,” she said. 9-1-1 was called and Gina’s father and brother knew CPR. “They pushed me aside to give Gino resuscitation,” recalled Gina.  “And then my father shouted that Gino had taken a breath! Miraculously, firefighters were just minutes away.”

“They got his pulse and some breaths back,” said Aaron. Gino was transported to Mountain View Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces. “They started telling us what was going to happen. They started telling us they were going to go to El Paso to El Paso Children’s Hospital; that the helicopter was on its way to transport Gino.”  Gina and Aaron would follow in their car. “Gina was inconsolable. It was gut wrenching, that drive. You hear about things like this on the news,” said Aaron. “You know about it; hope you never have to be there. You hope you never experience it; anything like that.”

Once Aaron and Gina arrived at El Paso Children’s Hospital, they were told Gino was alive. Gina remembers being told they were going to do everything they can. “There must have been 10 to 15 people in his room,” she remembers, “lots of activity and I knew activity was a good thing.”

Gino’s relatives began to arrive and filled the waiting area, causing Aaron to realize that “now is the time we have to pray. We got into a circle downstairs and Gina’s uncle who is a pastor, prayed with us. You want to believe with all your heart. You want to believe. You completely surrender yourself,” he said, his voice cracking. “You make promises – deals with God – and you want to believe.”

Dr. Bert Johansson, Intensivist at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of El Paso Children’s Hospital and the attending physician during this activity knows how good it was that it was late fall and not the season of summer. “Fortunately, the pool was 31 degrees as was he,” said Dr. Johansson, who insisted Gina and Aaron call him Bert. “This saved his life by preserving him. When he got here, and luckily he had been expertly intubated and cared for at the other hospital in Las Cruces, we were able to use specially ventilating techniques.”

El Paso Children’s Foundation funded the Life Pulse High Frequency Jet Ventilator for $37,916 that was used on Gino. 

“I also used nitric oxide which causes more blood to flow to the lung and for the lung to open up,” said Dr. Johansson. “Gino was unconscious, sedated, intubated and attached to several machines which helped to save his life.”

“The technology as well as the intellectual technology in our heads and the nurses and respiratory therapists here at El Paso Children’s Hospital didn’t exist prior to this hospital coming into existence. So he was saved by people and technology and people who had a lot of ganas.

 “Using these ventilators and this technology,” continued Dr. Johansson, “more lives are saved and they get to go home with their mommies and daddies. And sometimes they come back,” he said, “and visit and they tell us how much they love what we did for them.  When Gino left the hospital,” remarks Dr. Johansson, “he ran up to me and gave me a hug. He’s going to be normal and when I said, muscles he made a grunting sound and raised his arms!”

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