Roman’s Story

Precious Boy Loses Battle with Myocarditis at the Tender Age of 17 Months

Roman Brown’s Memory Lives On

Roman BrownFrom the moment Roman aka Romeo arrived in the world I knew there was something extremely special about him. He came into the world fully alert and ready to explore. Roman was a very happy, healthy, energetic 17-month old. Everywhere we went he had this amazing ability to connect with people. In our community, everyone knew Romeo, from the local librarian to the cashier at the grocery store. He always had a smile on his face that was often highly infectious. He would use that smile to flirt with all the ladies, hints the nickname Romeo. I just knew in my heart that my son was going to grow up to be someone extraordinary.

On the evening of August 6, 2015 I picked Roman up from daycare and I noticed he was breathing funny and making a strange rhythmic sound. Although he was breathing funny, he was still laughing and playing with his sister in the back seat of the car. I got the kids home and took off Romans clothes to take a closer look at his chest. After seeing his chest I immediately realized something was terribly wrong. I could literally see his chest retracting. I immediately grabbed Roman and his sister and rushed to our local emergency room. At this point, I never thought in a million years that something could be wrong with his heart. I was sure the doctors would tell me he had asthma and send us home with albuterol.

When we arrived to the emergency room, I remember carrying my son in my arms as he gasped for air. I told the ER staff that he was in respiratory distress and needed to be seen right away. The ER staff immediately rushed him to the back and requested an x-ray be taken of his chest. As we waited for the results of the x-ray Roman was being his typical self, flirting with the nurses in the emergency room. He definitely didn’t seem like himself physically, but he was still smiling through the pain. The doctor came in and told me the x-ray revealed he had pneumonia and we would be sent home with antibiotics. At that moment I let out a sigh of relief. We waited for another 20 minutes to be discharged when the same doctor came back in the room and told me I needed to sit down. She explained, another doctor in the ER looked at Roman’s x-ray and found that his heart was significantly enlarged for his age. The doctor informed us, she called our local Children’s Hospital and they were sending an ambulance to pick us up. Even at this point I don’t think I understood the severity of his condition.

Once we arrived to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) the paramedics immediately took us in through Emergency. The Emergency Room staff wasted no time and informed us that the Pediatric Cardiologist had been paged to examine Roman and his x-ray. The cardiologist told us we were being admitted into Cardiac ICU. It was the Pediatric Cardiologist who first explained myocarditis. The doctors later discovered Romans myocarditis was caused by the parvovirus.

After being admitted to the Children’s Hospital everything happened so quickly. The Cardiac ICU team explained things could get progressively worse, and they were right. Roman’s condition started to drastically decline within a matter of 12 hours. He went into cardiac arrest shortly after being admitted into Cardiac ICU. The Cardiac ICU team spent 45 minutes giving Roman CPR and trying to get him hooked up to the ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine. ECMO is an important treatment used for children and infants with cardiorespiratory failure. Once Roman was hooked up to ECMO the doctors informed us he suffered multiple seizures due to his brain not receiving enough oxygen when he received CPR. I was completely devastated and heart broken. The hardest part was not being able to take away the pain I witnessed my son endure. I wanted to desperately trade places with him. Why couldn’t it be me instead of my precious innocent baby?

Roman was on ECMO for seven days, but lost all brain activity due to the multiple seizures he suffered. Roman lost his battle to Myocarditis on Thursday, August 13, 2015. I will never forget that day for as long as I live. The amazing Cardiac ICU staff at CHOP had done everything they could possibly do to save Roman. It’s at that moment I truly realized what it means to trust in the Lord. I prayed over my son that day, telling the Lord I was commending him into his care. After I prayed with my family and everybody cleared the room I asked the doctors to remove all the equipment he was hooked up to so I could say my last goodbye. The nurse bought me a rocking chair and I held my baby in my arms as if it was the first time, and I wept for hours.

Roman truly lived up to the origin of his name, which was from the biblical verse Romans 8:28. He was so strong and brave at the tender age of 17 months. I truly hope by sharing my story and spreading awareness that I can help other families and one day, together we will find a cure for myocarditis.

Roman will forever be my hero. Heaven has truly gained an angel. Until we meet again, son, my heart beats for you.