Ten-year-old Michael loves sports. He’s enthusiastic about playing, watching and talking about football (also: hugging his mom). But when Michael was a toddler, severe subglottic stenosis — a congenital anomaly which paralyzed his vocal cords — sidelined him.

Michael was treated at other hospitals and was a candidate for a tracheotomy, a windpipe incision to relieve a breathing obstruction. A pulmonologist recommended Children’s National Hospital for a better solution. Otolaryngologist Dr. Diego Preciado had a reputation for tackling complex ear, nose and throat disorders with creative—and successful—plays.

“Dr. Preciado knew he could fix Michael's problem from our first consultation,” says Ryan, Michael’s mom. “The surgery would not be fun, but in the end, he would be able to live a normal, healthy life.”

Dr. Preciado suggested reconstruction to expand Michael’s narrowed airway. The complicated surgery would require collaboration among multiple specialists. It also would change Michael’s life, making it easier for him to eat, talk and breathe.

Years later, he still visits “Dr. Diego” for follow-ups. They always find time to talk football. Michael’s mom Ryan says the care they received, especially from Dr. Preciado, saved them, like a game-winning touchdown.

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.