In the close-knit Dominican Republic neighborhood where the Herreras live, everyone knows everyone. “It’s fun because your neighbors are your friends,” said Sandy.
“You know who lives on top of you, next to you.”
Now, they were in a country where they didn’t speak the language. It wasn’t that anyone was unfriendly, but the language barrier isolated the family.
“It’s difficult to be away from home,” Sandy said. “But we supported each other.”
The family had help from bilingual nurses in the pediatric cardiac ICU to whom they were especially close, including Leandra Combass, R.N., a nurse in the pediatric cardiac ICU; Daniela Sanchez, R.N.; and Circe Laucerica, ARNP.
The parents would confide in them. At times, the family just had to vent.
“I don’t have anyone to talk to,” Karen told Sanchez at one point. “We need somebody to talk to and to let out all the frustrations.”
A rotating team of ECMO specialists who worked by Andy’s bedside provided friendship. One of those specialists, Donnie Harrington, would form an especially close bond with Andy and his parents.
One day, Andy flew a small remote-controlled drone around his room, as Harrington danced with his arms going this way and that to keep it from hitting the ECMO equipment.
The family gave Harrington a nickname: tio loco, loco tio.
Uncle crazy, crazy uncle.
Part of their bond was music. Andy loves music and would prowl YouTube for artists he liked. Michael Jackson is a favorite. Harrington brought in his guitar to entertain Andy. He saw that his guitar could improve Andy’s mood.
Harrington decided to learn a Spanish-language song for Andy, “Lo Harás Otra Vez,” or “Do It Again,” about God’s ability to perform miracles. “I’ve seen You move mountains … And I believe, I’ll see You do it again.”
It took weeks for Harrington to teach himself the song. He’d listen to it with headphones on the weekend as he mowed his yard. He finally was ready to unveil it.
Andy and his family loved it. At one point, Andy met Harrington’s eyes, pointed at him and started bobbing his head.
For a moment, Andy was transported out of the hospital.