USCDM Miracle Kids!
Miracle Child Stories for USCDM
Miracle Child: Benjamin Brown
Benjamin, a patient of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, was born with a tumor in his airway. Benjamin has been through numerous surgeries and countless days and nights at Children’s Hospital. His favorite doctor is Dr. Garner, who has been with him every step of the way. In May 2012, Benjamin was chosen to represent more than 80,000 children from across South Carolina who are treated at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital each year at Food Lion’s pledge announcement. Benjamin’s family describes him as “energetic, smart and inquisitive, and loves to be a helper.” He has helped in various public awareness events and has spoken to sponsors and supporters. Benjamin loves doing philanthropic work, swimming and martial arts.
Miracle Child: Keldon Hemingway
Keldon, a patient of Prisma Health Children’s Hospital, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in 2008. Since his initial diagnosis, Keldon has undergone brain surgery, had two shunt implant surgeries, two port surgeries, at least 10 MRIs and 18 months of two types of chemotherapy. Today, the tumor that changed Keldon’s life remains stable. He attends school full-time and loves playing basketball. Keldon also likes singing, dancing, drawing and painting. He and his brother, Kendale, attended CAMP KEMO this past summer, a week-long overnight camp for kids with cancer and their siblings. Keldon is part of the Mini Marathon team at his high school!
Miracle Child: Lila Mozingo
Before Lila Mozingo was born in May 2011, her parents, Padgett and Mark, learned that she had an AV canal defect. Lila stayed in the NICU at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital for two and a half months after she was born and went through four surgeries, therapy and countless tests. When she was six months old, Lila had open heart surgery and now continues to return to Children’s Hospital for follow-up care. Today, the Mozingos are happy to report that Lila is thriving, and they give credit to the care provided to them by the doctors and staff at Children’s Hospital. “The quality of care was outstanding, and our sweet girl was never treated with anything but the kindest, most compassionate care,” said Padgett. “We’re blessed to have this quality facility right here in our community.”
Miracle Children: John and Phillips Marshall
When John and Phillips Marshall were born 12 weeks early in July 2011, they both weighed less than three pounds. Immediately after birth, they were rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. Initially, Phillips was placed on a ventilator for a few days. Once he was removed from the ventilator, both he and John had to use a CPAP machine, which helped their lungs expand. After being taken off the CPAP machine, the next challenge was to learn to feed. After conquering all these challenges, the premature twins were sent home with their parents. Today, John and Phillips are “good as gold” as two happy, smiling twin boys.
Miracle Child: Alex Bowers
On March 5, 2012, Alex Bowers was playing golf in a high school fundraiser when a golf ball slammed into his head. Alex was rushed to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital with a severely depressed skull fracture and had life-saving, emergency neurosurgery. From his experience at Children’s Hospital, what stood out most to Alex was the love and concern that was shown not only to him but also to his entire family. Being a resilient and energetic student and athlete, Alex is still involved with golf today and is a coaching assistant at River Bluff High School.
Miracle Child: Charis Bigwarfe
Charis Bigwarfe came into this world with her twin sister, Kathryn, 10 weeks early. Charis and Kathryn both weighed less than two pounds. Immediately after birth, the twin girls were rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. Kathryn survived for two days, but Charis fought for her life, and 12 weeks later, parents Jeffrey and Alexa took her home.
“No parent should have to experience the life-changing journey that happens when a baby is born too soon,” said Alexa. Though the journey to bring Charis home was long, she has conquered so much as a small but determined little girl. Now Charis is a happy, healthy little girl who likes to walk around carrying her “Kathryn puppy.”
Miracle Child: Hayden West
Hayden West was born with several chronic illnesses, including Crohn’s disease, selective IGA deficiency (a genetic immune deficiency disorder) and Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris (PRP), which most frequently takes Hayden and his family to Children’s Hospital. PRP is a rare and chronic skin disorder that causes scaling plaques all over the body, leading to skin infections which are difficult to treat. The disease is widespread, also affecting Hayden’s nails, mucous membranes and eyes. There is no known treatment or cure. Hayden is often in isolation due to an increased chance of acquiring an infection. “All the doctors, nurses and patient care technicians are truly fantastic,” said Hayden’s mom, Shannon. “They treat you and your child as if you’re their only patient. From the time you walk in the front door, the sense of calm you feel is truly amazing.” Hayden loves playing with his Monster Jam trucks and riding Go-Karts. When he grows up, he wants to be a veterinarian. “I like animals,” said Hayden. “They are so fun to hold and pet. I want them to be better and not sick because I know what it’s like to be sick.”
Miracle Child: Ellington Hewitt
In June 2009, Crystal Hewitt was involved in a major car accident which took the life of Ellington’s older brother and sister, Parker and Haley, and almost took Crystal’s life. A year after the tragedy, the Hewitts found out they were pregnant with Ellington. Craig and Crystal were excited to be pregnant with their third child, especially after the doctors didn’t think Crystal could have any more children due to her severe injuries.
At a routine ultrasound, the Hewitts were told Ellington had spina bifida, a congenital defect of the spine in which part of the spinal cord and its meninges are exposed through a gap in the backbone. It often causes paralysis of the lower limbs and sometimes a mental handicap. “We knew something was bad from the doctors’ faces. We were very emotional, scared and overwhelmed with Ellington’s diagnosis,” said Crystal. “The doctors said Ellington would probably be in a wheelchair, and in the best case, she would need braces and crutches to walk. We immediately started praying for healing.” Within hours of Ellington’s birth, she was sent into surgery at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital to close the spina bifida opening on her back. A month later, Ellington again had surgery to place a shunt inside her head to help reduce the amount of fluid in her brain. Ellington began therapy at Children’s Hospital and began walking on January 25, 2012. Today, “Ellington is walking so well, taking dance lessons and knocking the socks off the doctors with God’s miracle work!” says Crystal.
Miracle Child: Tap Priester
In June of 2017, at age 1 ½, Tap and his big sister Gardner found a way into the backyard of their new home, and Tap fell into the pool. Minutes later, his mom Lindsey found him and administered life-saving compressions to expel water from his lungs and get oxygen in. Tap was transported by ambulance to Children’s Hospital where the family was cared for by Child Life, the PICU, and our pediatric trauma team. Today, Tap is doing great and loving spending time with his family!
Miracle Child: Gabriella Holland Giovannone
In November 2016, 5-year-old Gabriella Holland Giovannone began having uncontrollable seizures at her family’s home in Lexington. Paramedics arrived but were unable to stabilize her, and she was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. When her brain continued to show signs of seizure activity even after being sedated and tube-fed oxygen, doctors put Gabriella into a medically-induced coma. She then moved to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) for three weeks. During her stay, she underwent treatment for encephalitis and waited for her body to recover. Her parents, Jason and Michelle, braced for the long and uncertain road ahead of them. After three weeks in the PICU, Gabriella was transferred to an inpatient rehab facility. Almost a year later, she has returned to her normal self. Gabriella’s parents say she is a true miracle. Gabriella is happy to get back to playing, enjoying the outdoors, and watching the Disney movie Frozen.
Miracle Child: Grayson Hendrix
Grayson was born on June 10th, 2013 and right away needed to be blue bagged to assist with breathing. He was in the special care nursery at Lexington Medical Center. At five days old they knew something was still not right with him, so they did a head ultrasound and transferred him to the NICU at Palmetto Richland for an MRI where he was diagnosed with a rare condition called the Vein of Galen Malformation. He remained in the NICU there for another week and a half. It was a very scary time of course. Around the time he was 7 weeks old he developed a fever, and not really thinking much of it, I took him into the pediatrician. I was quickly pushed aside as they administered oxygen to him and transferred him to Prisma Health Richland Children’s Hospital where he was in the PICU for two days. They thought he was going into heart failure (a condition that could have been brought on by VOGM). While they truly don’t know what was wrong, the staff and doctors saved Grayson’s life, and we now actually see the resident who is our primary care pediatrician who helped save Grayson’s life. We have used the ER at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital more times than I can count and the doctors and nurses there know Grayson on a name basis for the most part. They have also done so many scans there they might know his anatomy by site. In 2014, we spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital inpatient on the third floor which resulted in a feeding tube, and learning the staff on the third floor by name. In 2015-16, we noticed that he was getting sick a lot. Anything that would last five days for you or I was lasting two to three weeks for him. We found out through testing that he had immune issues. He then started to receive IVIG (immunotherapy replacement). To this day we are at the inpatient facilities every four weeks for at least 48 hours where he receives this immunotherapy replacement and fluids. In May, he had a port placed, as his veins are shot from the years of treatment. He loves to go the fifth floor and to see all of his nurses and techs, and his favorite nurse “SMOOCHIE.” He is a very avid superhero fan. Unknown to him, he is my biggest superhero of them all. He loves to pass the time at the hospital by playing with the nurses and visiting with all his Chi Omega “girlfriends,” as he calls them. Almost five years later and I have never been more thankful to have such a wonderful Children's Hospital so close to home. One that has saved my baby’s life, and continues to give him quality of life.
Miracle Child: Braden Green
Braden Green was born on March 7, 2006. He goes to Crayton Middle School and his favorite subject is math. He loves all sports especially basketball, baseball, and football. He also loves the arts: drawing, writing, piano, drums and the cello! He has 2 older sisters and 1 niece, Eva Jai. Braden was diagnosed with Sickle Cell Disease at birth. He has been visiting the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital since the age of 3 months. He visits the Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders regularly to stay on top of his illness. Braden’s resilience and strength amaze's and motivate's his family. Despite his illness, he remains as positive and happy as he can be. Braden’s parents find comfort in knowing that if he needs any health care, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital is there for him. His parents have founded a nonprofit organization, The B Strong Group, in his honor and have dedicated their lives to advocating for him, other children, and adults who have sickle cell disease.
Miracle Child: Kellen Hoey
When Kellen was little, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He went through chemotherapy and has now been off of treatments for two years! Kellen is a happy, healthy, and fun kid. He loves his big sister and little brother and playing outside.
Miracle Child: Brayden Sox
In July of 2016, Brayden had just finished playing on the all-star baseball team and we noticed he was getting very pale all of a sudden. After a week or so, it wasn’t getting any better, so we took him to the pediatrician. She checked for a few different things and it was all okay, except his iron levels. She could sense something wasn’t right with that so she sent us to the hospital for more in depth blood work. She called back that afternoon to tell us that we needed to go to the children’s hospital because his white blood cells, his hemoglobin, and his platelets were all low which was an indication that he had leukemic cells. We went straight to the hospital and he was admitted. That’s where the whirlwind began. The next morning they did a bone marrow draw and it was confirmed that he had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL). The next few days included having surgery to have a port placed and the beginning of a long road of chemo treatments. Our world changed forever that July day. Brayden went through 9 months of intense chemo. He had numerous hospital stays during this time for various reasons. He was sick a lot and had many times where his blood counts were too low to go anywhere and do anything. In April of 2017, he finally made it to the maintenance phase of his treatment. While maintenance has been a little easier on his body, it still takes a toll on him. He will be in the maintenance phase of treatment until November 2019. We are thankful to have the worst part of his treatment behind us and celebrate the little things like being able to go to school (he missed all of his 5th grade year), playing baseball, and just going to his favorite places. We decided early on that we were going to find the blessings in all of this and focus on the good. We adopted the family motto of “Better, not bitter.” Brayden is fighting this and somehow keeps a smile on his face the whole time. His strength has gotten us through a lot of difficult times.
Miracle Child: Eli Adams
When Robyn Adams and her husband, Chris, were planning to move back to South Carolina from Texas, their son, Eli, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). “It shattered our world,” said Adams. “Once we got to Prisma Health Children’s Hospital’s Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in April 2015, it become apparent that this is where we are meant to be,” said Adams. “The physicians, nurses and staff here treat us like family. They are an amazing team and so different from what we experienced in Texas.” While Eli’s course of treatment is expected to last 104 weeks, he recently reached the “maintenance phase” and comes for a lumbar puncture and testing every six weeks. Eli adores the pet therapy dogs at Children’s Hospital and particularly loves Phoenix, Bear, and Josh. Eli, his parents, and his brother live in Gilbert, South Carolina. “Childhood cancer is not anything I would ever wish to experience,” said Adams. “But if you focus on looking for the positive things, there have been way more good things to come out of this than bad. It has brought our family opportunities to see and experience the good in people. God has been right here with us.”
Miracle Child: Nathan Martin
Nathan Martin was born in September 2018 with a rare condition called Elis Van Creveld. Due to the harsh respiratory and heart issues, many children do not survive birth, but after 4 weeks in the NICU, Nate was ready to go home. However, in May of 2014, Nate suffered kidney failure and was admitted to the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. His mom, DD Martin, began homeschooling him while he was undergoing dialysis. Finally, on March 8th, 2015, the Martins found out a new kidney was ready for transplant. The surgery was a success! He will eventually need another kidney at some point because transplanted organs do not usually last a lifetime, but for now, Nate is enjoying goofing off and just being a kid. You can keep up with Nate through his Facebook page, Nater Tot’s Update Spot!
Miracle Child: Zoe Tipping
On April 21st, 2014, a routine family trip to the zoo ended in panic when blood was found in Zoe's urine. After a rush to the doctor and then the hospital, doctors confirmed that little Zoe had Wilm's tumor, a cancer of the kidney. Zoe's cancer was stage 4, and had spread to her lungs. Today, Zoe attends Ben Lippen School and is healthy and full of energy! Zoe wants to be a Ninja when she grows up and loves her two siblings, Sadie and Toby. For the past few years, instead of asking for presents, Zoe has collected donations for PHCH and delivered them to the kids in the hospital!
Miracle Child: Sara Duncan
Sara Duncan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, called a neuroblastoma, when she was very young. A neuroblastoma develops from malignant cells most often found in the adrenal glands and spreads throughout the body. Sara has had major surgery to remove a tumor in her abdomen and chemotherapy, in addition to stem-cell extractions and implantations. Now, she is loving playing softball and being with her team. Sara is the youngest of 3 kids and the daughter of Michelle and David. Her family is grateful for all that Prisma Health Children’s and MUSC have done to help Sara live a healthier life. Sara’s favorite song and battle anthem is “Roar” by Katy Perry.” She is also a big Gamecock fan!