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Rady Children's Specialists

Ventilator-dependence Program

Some children require medical assistance to compensate for a breathing difficulty. The Ventilator-dependence Program aims to provide care for technology-dependent children, including those who require tracheostomy, ventilator support or noninvasive ventilation via a mask (commonly referred to as bipap).

Our program places the voices of families at its core and values family-centered care. Expert care is provided by a multidisciplinary team.


Daniel Lesser, M.D., and Aparna Rao, M.D., coordinate pulmonary aspects of the program, and all of our pulmonologists serve to care for children requiring this type of support.

Matthew Brigger, M.D., M.P.H., and Tzyynong (Tina) Friesen, M.D., from the Otolaryngology division lead the program’s care of children who require tracheostomy.

At the time of diagnosis and for inpatient care, we have a specialized team of nurses and respiratory care practitioners who help families learn to care for their child’s medical needs.  Speech therapists, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, physical therapists, case workers, social workers, chaplains, the pediatric advanced care team, child life specialists, dietitians and various medical subspecialists work together to support children and their families.

Outpatient Care

In the outpatient setting, our goal is to support the child’s respiratory needs so that their full developmental potential can be met. The Pulmonary Clinic often serves as a medical home for these children, who are seen by pulmonary nurses, respiratory care practitioners and physicians.


A significant amount of care occurs in the home, and we partner with durable medical equipment companies to optimize respiratory care and equipment. Additionally, the Center for Healthy Sleep has a key role in the care of children who use noninvasive ventilation via a mask to aid their respiratory needs.

Members of the Pulmonary team care for children with neuromuscular disorders that affect breathing in the Multidisciplinary Neuromuscular Clinic (Muscle Disease Clinic).