In April 2009, 6-month-old Gavin Bennett came down with a low-grade fever that escalated very quickly. Gavin had contracted meningitis which caused purpura fulminans, a rare blood and tissue disorder.
Gavin was rushed by ambulance to the nearest hospital in rural South Dakota. Doctors there told Gavin’s mother, Echo, that her son would need more specialized care than they could provide, and were concerned that he would not survive the trip to the next hospital.
Miraculously, he made it through those first few hours and was then quickly air-lifted to a major trauma facility in Sioux Falls. The next few days were excruciating for Echo. “Gavin spent three days on life support,” she remembers. “We had exhausted all of our options. I just couldn’t imagine my world without him. But I knew we couldn’t give up.”
A few more days passed, and when he became stable enough, Gavin and Echo made the trip to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City (Missouri), where Echo received more devastating news. Because of the infection in Gavin’s bloodstream, circulation to his extremities had been comprised.
Doctors recommended amputations to his fingers and legs. But Echo was determined to explore other options. “Medical professionals were telling me they didn’t know what to do,” said Echo. “I kept telling myself there has to be someone else who knows how to deal with this disease.”
The medical team at Children’s Mercy then started researching who would be best suited to help Gavin. Within an hour, the team came back to Echo and told her she would be leaving for Cincinnati. “I knew if Shriners Hospitals for Children® couldn’t help my son, no one could,” said Echo.
By the time the plane landed in Cincinnati, Echo wondered if she would ever stop crying. But once they arrived at the hospital, the expert and compassionate staff gave her plenty of guidance and support and helped her cope with her extremely difficult situation. “I knew Gavin was getting the best medical care and attention he needed. It made all the difference to me,” said Echo.
During the eight weeks Gavin spent at Shriners Hospitals for Children® — Cincinnati, Gavin showed everyone just how tough he really is. Gavin walked away from the hospital without amputations or neurological damage. Today, he is an energetic 2-year-old who loves to jump on trampolines, run around, and talk to anyone. “When this happened, I didn’t know where my son was going or what our lives would be like,” said Echo. “Without Shriners Hospitals for Children®, I know Gavin’s outcome would not have been this successful.”