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Ellie and Dr. Elluru
Photo taken prior to COVID-19

Ellie was a patient at Dayton Children’s Hospital before she was even born. When her mom, Jackie, was just 22 weeks pregnant, they found a heart defect during an ultrasound. This defect would require heart surgery soon after she was born.

Because Ellie was born with Down syndrome and had some additional medical complexities, she was followed by several specialists at Dayton Children’s, including cardiologist Lubabatu Abdurrahman, MD, neurologist Gogi Kumar, MD and gastroenterologist Kathryn Williams, MD. She eventually visited another hospital to have her heart surgery and have a tracheostomy and gastrostomy tube placed. While following up with that hospital, Jackie was told, “Because your daughter has Down syndrome you can expect her to do this, this and this.”

She was disappointed to have her daughter treated as a “textbook case” and not as an individual. That all changed when Ravindhra Elluru, MD, pediatric ENT specialist, came to see Ellie in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Dayton Children’s.

“When Dr. Elluru consulted on Ellie’s case, I mentioned that we had been told that because Ellie had Down syndrome, her life would be a certain way,” said Jackie. “But, Dr. Elluru said, ‘I’m going to treat Ellie, like Ellie, and let’s go from there.’ He didn’t want to a follow a certain path, just because of her diagnosis. Because of this, we immediately knew he was the doctor for us.”

Ellie started seeing Dr. Elluru at Dayton Children’s shortly after the initial consult and her first surgery with him was in August 2015.

Since that first surgery, Ellie has had more than a dozen surgeries with Dr. Elluru, spanning from tonsil and adenoid removal to airway reconstruction. A final hurdle for Ellie has been the removal of her trach, which she uses to help her breathe. Jackie had been told how most children with Down syndrome would progress with a trach on a certain timeline. But, Ellie is not most children.

Last fall, after several scopes and a comprehensive sleep study, Dr. Elluru called Jackie and said, “Hey mama, are you ready to get Ellie’s trach out?”

Dr. Elluru removed Ellie’s tracheostomy tube in November 2019 and now, Ellie’s airway is stable and she is thriving.

“With Dr. Elluru, we are more than just a number. He always asks about each of our family members by name and is just so personable,” said Jackie. “Ellie just adores him. A few years ago, we never could have imagined we could get to this point, but Dr. Elluru helped us get here.”