The Children's Miracle Network Champions program honors remarkable children from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. For their courage and perseverance, the Champions have been selected as international ambassadors for the 17 million kids treated each year at Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
Matthew Heuer looked across the field near their Leonard, N.D., home and saw the overturned ATV.
Within minutes, he found his son, 9-year-old Jared, face down in the ditch.
Matthew called 911, triggering help from the local ambulance and first responders. Sanford LifeFlight landed in the field and transported Jared to Sanford Emergency Center in Fargo.
"I was so scared we were going to lose him," says his mom, Nicholle, recalling the accident on Oct. 14, 2012. "I kept hoping we had really good doctors on our side."
The injuries were extensive: eight broken ribs, bruised and collapsed lungs, a fractured scapula and a lacerated liver. A surgical team tried to repair leaks in the lungs, but the damage was too severe.
"By the grace of god, the largest leak in Jared's right lung somehow plugged. Nobody can explain it," says Nicholle. "I believe that miracle could never have happened without the oscillator ventilator keeping him alive."
Jared's healing continued with help from:
- The complete Sanford Children's team of pediatric specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational and physical therapists, child life specialists and many others. "They were amazing," says Nicholle. "These are people who truly love what they do. It shows in how they care for the kids."
- The love and support of family, friends and community. They rallied and never gave up.
Jared spent 17 days at Sanford Children's, including 14 in Pediatrics Intensive Care. He also received outpatient physical and occupational therapy. Today he's a third grader who loves dodge ball.
"If we lived anywhere else I'm not sure we'd have our son," says Matthew. "That's the difference Sanford Children's made for our family."
At 23 weeks pregnant, Sarah was diagnosed with a rare disorder affecting blood flow to each identical twin. With advanced technology, Sarah was able to undergo a lifesaving laser procedure. The downside: increased risk for premature delivery. At 27 weeks, Jack and Joe arrived each weighing between 2 and 3 pounds.
An accidental gunshot caused a serious wound to 3-year-old Laine's left hip, prompting emergency surgery and specialized care at Sanford Children's Hospital. Laine spent a week in the hospital, then continued intensive wound treatment at home. Today, Laine runs, jumps and plays like any child would. A small boy … a bright future … the miracle of a brand new day.
2010: Alyssa Pratt
A doctor's appointment on June 10, 2009, in her hometown of Minot, N.D., led to the devastating news: blood tests showed leukemia. The family needed to travel to Sanford in Fargo immediately.
2009: Matthew Garberg
Born 16 weeks early in Bemidji, Minn., Matt Garberg weighed 1 pound, 5 ounces. Babies so small and fragile face obstacles that can last a lifetime, but the first challenge? Survival. A call to Sanford in Fargo set in motion a lifesaving journey.
2008: Cora Knudsvig
December 31, 2005 is a day the Keith and Tanya Knudsvig family will never forget. After complaining about a bad headache and vomiting, 5-year-old daughter Cora Knudsvig became unresponsive and was rushed to Sanford Children's Hospital where doctors diagnosed her with a brain tumor (Papillary Neuroglioma).
2007: Monica Hatch
Monica Hatch had an unstoppable zest for life, despite the challenges and hardships of cancer. In 2003, at the age of 11, Monica was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that starts in the connective tissue.
2006: Tanya Holbrook
On January 2, 2005, Tanya Holbrook complained to her mother about a headache. Knowing something was very wrong, Tanya was rushed to Sanford Children's Hospital. A cluster of blood vessels had exploded in her brain. Tanya was rushed into emergency surgery where doctors placed a stent in her head to relieve the pressure from the excess blood.
2005: Leah Vigum
Leah Vigum is a happy five-year-old who attends pre-school and loves to sing and dance. It is difficult to look at her bright smile today and believe that at the tender age of four months the unthinkable could have happened.
2004: Brandon Lee
In the fall of 2002, Brandon Lee began experiencing painful headaches, a condition unusual for an athletic nine-year-old boy. On New Year's Eve, when Brandon's headache became so severe that he could no longer tolerate the pain, his parents, Kimi and Jason, knew something was terribly wrong. They rushed him to Sanford Emergency Center, where doctors discovered a tumor behind Brandon's eye.
2003: Simon Nelson
The incident that earned Simon Nelson his place as CMN Champion actually took place two years ago. On January 22, 2001, young Simon, clad only in his pajamas, wandered out of his family's home near Hitterdal, Minn., into a 10-degree night. At 4:30am, Simon's mother, Janna, awoke to find the front door open. Sensing something was wrong, she went to check on Simon and his brother, DeForrest, only to find Simon's bed empty.
2002: Sara Flint
Sara Flint's surgeries began on Nov. 23, 1994, the day she was born at Sanford Health. Diagnosed with spina bifida, surgery was performed to close the opening on her spine. Ten days later, Sara underwent a second surgery to place a shunt into her head to drain off excess fluid.
2001: Tyler Klain
Fourteen-year-old Tyler Klain is the son of Durnell and Darcy Klain. He was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia in March of 2000 and underwent many months of intensive chemotherapy treatment at Sanford in Fargo. He is now in remission and doing well. Tyler is a patient of Dr. Nathan Kobrinsky, a pediatric oncologist/hematologist at Sanford Children's Hospital.