WACO (December 15, 2009)—Nicholas Bolin, 9, a fourth grade student at South Bosque Elementary School has died of complications from swine flu, family members confirmed Tuesday.
Nicholas, who had asthma, got sick suddenly on a Sunday night last month, his mother, Stacey Bolin, said in a letter sent to friends, which she forwarded to News 10.
There was “no warning, no asthma cough, just one minute he was playing, the next hour he spiked a fever and vomited. He then had shortness of breath so I gave him a nebulizer treatment of Albuterol and it did not help,” the letter said.
Nicholas’ mother called 911 and the boy was taken first to a Waco emergency room and then transferred to Scott & White Hospital in Temple, where initially he responded well to treatment.
But then complications developed, and doctors diagnosed him with life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome and said he required a procedure called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO, which Scott & White personnel weren’t trained to perform on patients in Nicholas’ age group, the letter said.
Christus Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital in San Antonio specializes in the procedure that allows lungs to heal while a machine provides oxygen.
But doctors said Nicholas wouldn’t survive the transfer without first undergoing the procedure, so, with authorization from the secretary of the Air Force, an Air Force crew flew doctors from Christus Santa Rosa and 3,000 pounds of equipment to Temple, where a 7-and-a-half hour procedure was performed to prepare him for the flight to San Antonio, the letter said.
“We were allowed to be there and watch right in his room,” Stacey Bolin said.
“After a while I put on a mask and watched it all. It was the most surreal moment in my life.”
The Air Force crew and medical personnel later flew Nicholas to San Antonio, where he was taken to Christus Santa Rose and placed on a permanent ECMO machine.
He died there around 12:30 a.m. Monday.
He would have celebrated his 10th birthday on Dec. 30.
The school sent letters home to parents later Monday notifying them of the death.
Students and faculty and the school observed a moment of silence Tuesday for the boy and his family and a school counselor was visiting all of the school’s fourth grade classes.