UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital held picture day on Friday -- not a promotional shoot for doctors and nurses, but an opportunity to get a photo with 8-year-old patient Lydia Ledford.
Lydia, who has spent three months at the hospital getting treatment for a severe flu, was finally being released and able to go home.
"She's just become a real star in the hospital," said Dr. Peter Oishi, who works at the hospital's intensive care unit.
Lydia on Christmas Day got a cough, and it would not stop, mother Emily Ledford said.
"She didn't even have a fever and one day I was snuggling with her and she was breathing really fast," Emily Ledford said.
Lydia was then taken to urgent care in her hometown of Bakersfield. Soon after, she was airlifted to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.
"It was bad," Lydia said. "Really bad."
The next three months would be scary and unpredictable for Lydia, who had to be hooked up to what is called an ECMO, a machine that oxygenates and removes carbon dioxide from the blood like an artificial lung.
Most patients are on the machine for two weeks. For Lydia, it was two months.
"I was the first kid on the robot lung for eight weeks," Lydia said.
Oishi said Lydia's case was very rare.
"Extremely unusual to get that sick from influenza, and it's also very unusual to require that kind of support for that period of time," Oishi said.
Lydia has not been outdoors much and said she is looking forward to going to the park once she returns home.
Doctors said the girl is expected to fully recover.
"It's weird -- I've been living this life for three months and I love everybody here so much," Emily Ledford said. "But I love all my family back home. It's such a strange feeling. I'm so excited that she's so good and that we get to go home."