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Fifteenyear old with H1N1 is leaving MeritCare Childrens Hospital

Fifteen-year old Keith Worthington of West Fargo has been in critical condition in MeritCare Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) battling H1N1 flu since Oct. 19, 2009. Today, Keith has recovered enough to leave MeritCare.

Fifteen-year old Keith Worthington of West Fargo has been in critical condition at MeritCare Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) battling H1N1 flu since Oct. 19, 2009. Today, Keith has recovered enough to leave MeritCare and transfer to Triumph Hospital, a long-term rehabilitation facility in Fargo. His doctors are hopeful he will eventually make a full recovery. He'll continue to need occupational, physical and speech therapy. It's expected he'll remain at Triumph for possibly two more months.

"I can't believe he's leaving. It is amazing how far he's come. It's such a blessing after the rollercoaster ride he's been on. He's ready to get back to being a kid, and I want to be right by his side the whole time," said Christina Quintana, Keith's mother. "I continue to urge every parent, no matter how old your child is, to tell them to get a flu shot. It's not too late."

From the time Keith arrived at MeritCare, doctors were unsure he would survive. Tests indicated he had a severe case of pneumonia (which destroys lung tissue); it was later confirmed that he also had H1N1 flu. Keith developed a staph infection, had to be on a special ventilator to help him breath, and then later a tracheotomy.

Dr. Ken Gheen, MeritCare Children's Hospital critical care specialist, remembers the night Keith arrived and continuing his care for months. Gheen said, "We used just about every treatment option and every piece of technology and all our expertise to keep Keith alive. It truly was a team effort. To see him finally turn it around and start healing and now leaving MeritCare, it is amazing and extremely gratifying for all of us who cared for Keith."

Background
  • In October Keith had flu like symptoms – trouble breathing, cough, lethargic, and low-grade fever. H1N1 flu vaccine was not yet available.

  • His mom took him to MeritCare's Emergency Center where he was admitted on Oct. 19, 2009.

  • He has been cared for at MeritCare Children's Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit his entire hospitalization.

  • On Nov. 24, his heart stopped beating. Doctors performed CPR and used medication to resuscitate him.

  • A pediatric respiratory therapy team, high-frequency oscillatory vent and nitric oxide (used when vents fail to relax lungs so they can oxygenate) were some of the highly specialized services Keith required and are not found at every hospital.

  • Keith's mom originally shared his story in hopes that it will prompt people to be vaccinated to prevent getting H1N1 flu.

  • Keith is autistic but he had no underlying medical conditions that would put him at risk for H1N1.

  • Keith is in the eighth grade at Ben Franklin Middle School, Fargo. He has autism and lives at Friendship Inc., Fargo.

  • His parents are Kevin Worthington and Christina Quintana, West Fargo.

  • For more information visit caringbridge.com (search: keithworthington).