Children's hospital helps sick primate

Bonobo is treated for pneumonia

Children's hospital saves sick chimp

A special primate recently returned to the Milwaukee County Zoo after receiving life-saving care from an unusual source -- a children's hospital.

Seconds counted when Noelle, a 3-year-old bonobo, was in critical condition last November.

Officials from the zoo made an urgent call to Children's Hospital for help. The little primate was turning blue and in desperate need of oxygen.

"She was very, very ill,” said Dr. Rainer Gedeit, clinical director of pediatric clinical care. “She had really bad pneumonia … and so helping her breathe was really what she needed."

To help little Noelle breathe, the staff at children's hospital had to figure out a way to connect an old ventilator to equipment at the zoo.

"I brought a ventilator that we were getting ready to discard,” said respiratory therapist Khris O’Brien. “It had served its useful life for the children that we have here ... there's better equipment that's available now."

Before long, Noelle was weaned off the ventilator and getting stronger. Today the animal is thriving and doing what primates do best -- just hanging around.

"She looked so healthy it was just wonderful to see,” O’Brien said.

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