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.
Jack and Joe Gould: 2012 North Dakota Champions
The double joy of expecting twins! But in November 2005, excitement turned to concern for Sarah and Jeff Gould of Fargo.
At 23 weeks pregnant, Sarah was diagnosed with a rare disorder affecting blood flow to each identical twin. Years ago it meant fetal death. With advanced technology, Sarah was able to undergo a lifesaving laser procedure. The downside: increased risk for premature delivery.
On Jan. 11, 2006 – at 27 1/2 weeks – Jack and Joe arrived, each weighing between 2 and 3 pounds.
Could they survive? Enter Sanford Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), complete with:
- High-tech equipment including oscillators for breathing and Giraffe beds for comfort.
- The expertise and compassion of neonatologists, pediatric specialists and the entire NICU team.
"The NICU staff was incredible," says Sarah. "They were like our extended family, with each nurse becoming like a second mom."
But there's more…
On Feb. 4, Jack suffered severe kidney failure and was expected to die within hours. Jeff had one request: hold the babies – together.
"They hadn't been together since birth, but the NICU staff made it happen – tubes and all," recalls Jeff.
He held them close, then carefully handed Jack back to his nurse.
"He was so very sick," says Jeff, pausing. "Joey reached up and touched his head…"
Surprising many, Jack bounced back that day! Two months later, both boys went home. Outpatient care continued at Sanford Children's, including physical and occupational therapy for Joe and pediatric cardiology for Jack.
Today they're healthy, happy kindergartners. Best friends, too.
"If someone had told me six years ago that this is what I'd get, I'd have said not a chance," says Jeff, watching the twins ride scooters. "We're unbelievably fortunate to have Sanford Children's in our community. Without that place, we wouldn't have our boys."
2011: Laine Nicholls
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.