Toddler Becomes Youngest in World Implanted with Artificial Lung

He said having Owen be the first in the U.S. to get the NovaLung is not what's important. "We would rather be the second or thousandth to do it if it meant saving Owen," said Stark.

But, in late July, just one week shy of his second birthday, there was a dramatic, and surprising turn of events. It began when Owen kicked off a connector to the NovaLung. While doctors worked to replace the connector, Owen suffered a stroke.

When doctors worked to replace the NovaLung with a ventilator to keep Owen breathing, they noticed that Owen's lungs were able to function on their own.

"There's no question that [the NovaLung] gave him the opportunity for his medicines to work and chance for his lungs to recover," said Grady. "I didn't anticipate his lungs would recover as much as it did."

Owen is now undergoing physical therapy to recover from his stroke. He is still on medications for his hypertension, but is able to breathe on his own and no longer needs an immediate lung transplant, according to Grady. Stark said Owen will move to the rehabilitation floor of the hospital next week, and afterwards may be able to go home.

Doctors found Owen's recovery extraordinary as the youngest patient to thrive on a NovaLung. The Starks, who have not left Owen's hospital room since his collapse in mid-June, said it's "more than luck" that has kept Owen alive.

"I think there's been a little more involved in his journey than medicine," said Stark.

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