Donors Help Provide Life-Saving, State-of-the-Art Equipment

When the flu hit the Mills household in Watertown during Christmas last year, Mike and Jana Mills assumed their three children would heal on their own. But the youngest son, Dallin, hadn’t shown any signs of improvements after a week. On Jan. 3, Dallin lay on the couch unresponsive when they called his name.

“His eyes were glazed over and I thought something was not right,” Jana said. Emergency room doctors confirmed Dallin was having a seizure and needed to get to Sanford Children’s Hospital. Sanford AirMed transported Jana and Dallin to Sioux Falls and he was admitted into the Miller Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

“You are in shock at this point,” Jana said. “It’s kind of surreal. You think, ‘This is not happening.’”

The next day, doctors confirmed Dallin had HSP, or Henoch-Schönlein Purpura, an immune-mediated vasculitic disease, or inflammation of small blood vessels, that causes a bruise-like rash and can affect multiple organ systems with the kidneys most likely affected. Several specialists examined Dallin and performed tests to determine if the HSP affected his other bodily functions, and it had. In addition to kidney malfunction, excessive fluid and inflammation in his abdomen and lungs affected his breathing to cause Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, an extreme rarity for HSP. Plus, he was diagnosed with cardiomyophathy, a heart condition, doctors said is also uncommon.

“Every time doctors would say, ‘Well, this could happen, but not likely,’ it would happen,” Mike said.

But all the while, the Mills felt fortunate to be at Sanford Children’s with the compassionate, intelligent and proactive medical team. “We have not had just one doctor who cares about our child, but a wonderful team who meets and plans daily, if not more than one time a day, to discuss the care and treatment plan to help our sweet little boy,” Jana said.

They are also thankful for the extra resources. Generous donors make life a little easier for families, like the Mills, with meal vouchers, mileage reimbursement and support from the pediatric social work team which, along with Child Life programs, are paid for by Children’s Miracle Network.

Dallin returned home on March 7 – after 57 days at Sanford Children’s. Today, Mike and Jana make sure Dallin takes his daily medication, attends speech and physical therapy sessions and gets to follow-up doctor appointments. “Every day is a gift,” Jana said. “I try to cherish every moment with my kids even more now.”

To learn more about Children’s Miracle Network or to make a gift, visit or call the Sanford Health Foundation at (605) 328-5700.

Posted Date: August 2013

Donors Help Provide Life-Saving, State-of-the-Art Equipment

HSP, or Henoch-Schönlein Purpura, inflammation of the small blood vessels, usually doesn’t affect more than the kidneys. But in the case of 4-year-old Dallin Mills, multiple organ systems began to shut down.