Lauren Harris: “A tiny little miracle”
Lauren was just 20 months old on February 8th, 2008. She had been taken to her local hospital due to what seemed to be a simple fever that just would not go away. It was just a couple of hours later that her parents received the news that Lauren was actually experiencing severe heart failure and needed to emergently be taken to a pediatric ICU.
Lauren was diagnosed with a cardiac ejection fraction (EF) of just 5%. Normal generally healthy EF is 55-65%. Her heart was failing and rapidly getting worse.
“She was one of the sickest patients that I have flown in my career with Children’s. Procedures and medications that would normally work were severely limited due to her nearly nonexistent heart function,” says Jonathan Godfrey, the Flight Nurse on Lauren’s transport
Children’s National Medical Center was notified that there was a critically ill cardiac patient that was in need of pediatric cardiac intensive care. Time was critical and minutes made the difference. Children’s National is the only dedicated critical care pediatric flight team in the Washington, DC region. The pediatric critical care flight crew was at her bedside in less than 30 minutes.
The Children’s team embraces the hospitals “family centered care” philosophy and strives to have a parent accompany their child on air and ground transports. The Children’s team took Lauren and her mother, Beth, to Washington, DC. Flight team members, Jonathan and Christina, clearly recall the flight even after thousands of patients transported. “It is important for many reasons that we have at least one parent come with us in flight as long as safety concerns are not an issue. Lauren’s mom was terrific during the flight but I could tell that she was really worried about her little girl.”
“I don’t recall meeting Christina and Jonathan in Lauren’s hospital room that day simply because I think I was in shock that we were air lifting my child. Once we took what seemed like the longest walk to the helicopter, I finally realized what amazing people were there to care for my daughter and myself,” says Lauren’s Mom, Beth.
“In the helicopter, they talked me through where to sit, how to use the seat belt and put my ear phones on for me. I could not hold Lauren but I was close enough that I could touch her face with just my pointer finger. And that is all it took for her to calm down and be ok for the flight. Once we were in the air, they were doing their thing. I have no idea what they were doing but I know my child didn’t mind. At one point Jonathan told me to look at the view of D.C. I think he was just trying to take my mind off of everything and for one second he did. They landed at Children’s and we took what seemed to be another long walk to the CICU. That is were I was met with a team of doctors and nurses that took over. They took care of my daughter and made sure I was doing ok.”
Lauren and her mother were taken directly to the pediatric ICU where cardiologists waiting at her bedside for her arrival. Medications and interventions were started within minutes of her arrival. The transport staff visited Lauren and her family regularly as she recovered over the next several months.
“The next day, Christina and Jonathan came by Lauren’s room to check in on her. That is were the friendship started,” recalls Mom Beth. “They came in over the next several weeks to check on Lauren, my husband, me and the rest of my family. They became part of our family. Looking back now I know that they were the very first step into my daughter’s recovery. We have kept in touch over the years and Jonathan even came to our home to visit with us after her release. Christina and Jonathan are two angels that were sent to us to make sure my daughter and my family pulled through this unexpected journey.”
Fast forward to today…Lauren is a healthy and active gymnast, having just wrapped up the Virginia State Championships meet in Virginia Beach over Mother’s Day weekend. She won 2nd All Around!
Lauren’s optimal outcome is a perfect example of the lifesaving services provided by EMS helicopters – rapid access to critical care, coupled with the highest-levels of patient care, while taking patients to the medical facility best suited to treat their specific needs.
Submitted by Children’s National Medical Center