A 7-year-old boy with a rare genetic lung condition, and who recently became an honorary NYPD officer, was finally released from the hospital after four years to the applause of officers, nurses and friends.
Anthony Rojas will finally be able to go home after spending most of his life at St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Queens due to chronic respiratory failure. His rare condition – bronchiolitis obliterans – causes abnormal cell growth and scarring in his lungs, making it difficult to breath.
During his four-year stay at the hospital, Rojas got his wish to become a police officer, and was given honorary cop status from the NYPD. His mother said this kept him strong.
On Oct. 21, he was finally well enough to be discharged from the hospital, receiving a hero’s welcome from NYPD officers who greeted him and cheered him on.
A year after his diagnosis in 2018, Rojas joined NYPD’s HOPE Program (stands for Heroism, Optimism, Perseverance, Encouragement) which lets children with severe or terminal illnesses become an honorary cop and spend time with the NYPD visiting the Empire State Building, the NYPD Joint Operation Center, and going on patrol with K9 units or Harbor Unit boat patrols.
Detective Anthony Passaro, who worked with Rojas in the HOPE program, was emotional.
“It’s the most incredible feeling in the whole entire world,” Passaro said of Rojas’ miraculous recovery.
“He’s had many ups and downs over the years as he was initially on the transplant list for two new lungs, but then became too sick for the transplant he so desperately needed,” Passaro said. “No one on his care team nor in his family ever thought a discharge like this would be possible. Anthony is heading home thanks to his hard work and the devotion of his family, team of nurses, therapists and medical team at St. Mary’s. Everyone is thrilled for him because he will benefit greatly from being in the community and attending a school like a regular kid.”
Doctors initially expected that Rojas would need a double lung transplant to recover, but miraculously, after intensive therapies and numerous infusion treatments, his condition stabilized and he was allowed to be discharged.
Rojas symbolically wore his uniform and badge as he was led out of the hospital and bid farewell by his friends, while receiving a hero’s salute from NYPD officers accompanied by a K9 and even a police horse. He also was able to control a bomb disposal robot before getting a ride home in a squad car.
“I want to thank all the staff,” Rojas’ mother, Lucy Ramirez, said. “This is a new beginning. Thank you to all of St. Mary’s staff because of the wonderful job they’ve done with him. We leave here with a world of happy. Thank you.”
Dina Spierer, a pediatric nurse, thanked God for the good outcome, and said that Rojas may be able to go to school soon.
“It’s really St. Mary’s team that brought him to this point right now, and no one expected it. His prognosis right now seems pretty good. The plan is for him to be home, get comfortable in the community and then hopefully go to a regular community school,” Spierer said.
When asked about his future plans, Rojas stated: “To do stuff with Dylan, my brother.”