Miracle Monday: 7-year-old once hospitalized is now on a mission to help sick kids
SPOKANE, Wash.– Sometimes the smallest moments can take up the biggest place in your heart. Even a day at the playground with their children is something Jill and Randall Kimberling won’t take for granted. That’s because not too long ago, days like that were a faraway dream.
Two years ago, Levi Kimberling, the youngest of three, started to feel really sick. His parents took him to the hospital with what they thought was the flu. He was rushed to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital for specialized treatment. Soon, doctors diagnosed the 4-year-old with influenza B, the adenovirus, pneumonia, strep, and necrotizing pneumonia.
Levi spent 91 days at Sacred Heart. More than half of that time he was on life support. He was so fragile, even a slight shift of blankets could pose a deadly threat, according to his parents. A ventilator and then an oscillator kept Levi breathing, until even those machines were not enough.
Doctors knew their little patient needed more help to stay alive, so they suggested a form of life support called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). The equipment would mimic Levi Owen’s lungs, giving his organs time to heal. But, his odds of surviving the treatment weren’t good. Randall said his son would have died without it though.
“Every day is a roller coaster. No idea of what or when, if he was going to make it the next day,” Randall said.
Levi spent 51 days on ECMO, according to Randall. Hospital officials said that’s longer than any other child at Sacred Heart Children’s Center.
By nothing short of a miracle, he survived. Then, Levi was determined to thrive. It wasn’t an easy road though.
“He had to re-learn how to talk, how to eat, everything,” Randall said. “Now, you can’t tell that anything happened. He just has a few scars and other than that, he’s just a normal child.”
Now Levi is helping other kids in the hospital by raising money for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). The organization gives to Sacred Heart each year. Donations helped pay for the ECMO machine that kept Levi alive.
“He’s living proof that their dollars actually go somewhere,” Randall said.
Levi reminded people of that at a recent Walmart fundraiser for CMN. At one point, he challenged staff to donate $100 and he’d take a whipped cream pie to the face.
“I said, if you raise $100, I’ll take a pie in the face and they did it in like one minute,” Levi said. “So that’s when I got a pie in the face.”
At the age of seven, Levi is learning an important lesson. Make your moments count.
“My hope for the future is that he carries on with the same attitude that he’s had up until this point, the ability to fight, the ability to understand and learn, to accept everybody.” Randall said. “That’s all I hope for.”
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