We picked up George on December 24 at a hospital in Springfield, Missouri. The 14-year-old had Influenza A and it had done significant damage to his heart, reducing his circulation, threatening the health of his extremities and affecting his kidneys. You really don’t get any sicker than this boy was. He was in serious heart failure and we had to get him to Children’s fast. He needed the Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine to give his heart a rest.
I spoke directly to his family about the significant risk of transporting him, and they knew it would be riskier to stay. It was a tough conversation, but we are there for the families, through good and bad, no matter what.
I flew with George on KidsFlight 3, our fixed wing aircraft, and then transported him from the airport to Children’s in a MICU (Mobile Intensive Care Unit), keeping him stable and alive until he could get to the treatment and doctors who saved him. George’s fighting spirit even earned him the nickname, “Mighty George” among the Children’s staff.
I was lucky also to get the mission to take him to his rehab facility the day he left the hospital and I couldn’t believe he was the same kid.
George is back home with his family now and his heart and kidneys are healing. He’s doing physical therapy to regain his ability to walk and is catching up in school.
Kids are amazingly resilient and to see someone as sick as George recover and go home makes it all worth it.