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I called 911 and started CPR. When EMS arrived, they were able to get her heartbeat back, which she had lost while I was doing CPR, and intubated her to assist her in breathing. Her throat was completely closed off due to the croup. She was transferred to Medical Center Hospital, where they got her stabilized, but she still wasn't breathing on her own and now her lungs were filling up with fluid. She was now showing signs of pneumonia and they were unable to keep her oxygen level at the level it needed to be. We spent all day in the emergency room with dozens of doctors coming to try to help her, but time after time we were told that her case was different than what they knew how to handle. She was a pediatric patient and in the medical world there are vast differences in treating adults and pediatrics. See any other day Sam would have been life flighted to Lubbock, Dallas or Houston, but not this day. The weather was horrible. The average tempature for that day was 20 degrees with snow and ice everywhere. Our hospital couldn't fly her anywhere in this weather and no one would fly in to get her. So we waited while the hospital tried to figure out where to put her...she is not an adult and therefore could not be admitted to the I.C.U. Finally Santa Rosa's Childrens Hospital in San Antonio agreed to come and pick her up.
Sam woke up a couple of times that night with a "croupy" sounding cough. We did the normal things you would do for croup, after all, she was 8 years old, not an infant, croup isn't dangerous at that age, right?? The first time (1A.M.) I got her into a hot shower and she was better within a few minutes. The second time (5 A.M.) we did a pot of steaming water with a towel draped over her head. She again was fine within a few minutes. At 9 A.M. I was sitting at my desk making her a doctors appointment, as I was hanging up the phone, my phone started to ring again....it was Sam, calling me from her bedroom, the next room over. I ran to her room, she told me she was having trouble breathing again. I told her that I had her a doctors appointment, but we would get her to breathing better and just go in early. I got her to the bathroom and turned on the shower....as I was helping to get her shirt off, Sam collapsed into my arms, her lips and fingertips were blue. She had stopped breathing.
At around 7 p.m. (remember we have been in the emergency room since just after 9 a.m.) They loaded Sam and I on a fixed wing plane to head to San Antonio. Our prayers were being answered, we were going somewhere that specialized in pediatric care. The flight crew was AMAZING! They kept me informed of what they were doing, as I couldn't see from where they had me strapped in. They were able to get her oxygen level stablized. Things were looking good..right, our little girl was going to be fine. But that just wasn't the case. When we arrived at Santa Rosa's she was wisked away and I was stuck ALONE in a dreary waiting room while my family made the awful drive. About 2 1/2 hours after we got there the doctor came in. We went to a private room and she spoke to me for a few minutes, then asked if I had family coming. I told her they would be here in a couple of hours they were on their way. She then proceeded to tell me that my daughter would not be alive in 24 hours. Please keep in mind, I have NO ONE there with me and this is the most devastating news I have every received in my life. I was then taken into see her, my husband and family arrived about an hour later. We watched as they ran test over and over. Some would come back hopeful while others were heart-breaking. Things really were not looking too good. At around noon on February 2, 2011 the doctors came in to perform a "brain death exam." We were told that after they did this series of test they would have to repeat the test again in 24 hours to pronounce her brain dead. After watching them perform these test that looked horribly painful they arrived at the final test which was seeing if she could breath on her own. She was not able to. We made the decision at that point that would forever change our lives. We did not let them resuscitate her. As her parents we knew she was not coming back and we couldn't sit and watch as they poked, prodded and performed these test again. Sam was pronounced dead at 12:45 p.m.
The night of January 31, 2011 was like most others in our home as the day grew to an end. We tucked our 8 year old daughter, Samantha into bed and kissed her good night. Little did we know know that would be the last night that we ever tucked her into bed, kissed her good night or listen to her read a story before bed.
No parent should EVER have to go through what we did, but the reality is, it does happen. We were certainly one of those "it won't ever happen to me" parents. Our daughter was young and healthy. If the need for critical pediatric care arises, currently it is not available locally. You have to be life flighted or transported to another facility. The nearest being Lubbock. That means you are roughly 3 1/2 hours minimum from critical care for your child. That also means you are that far from all of your support, your family and friends that are so critical in times like these. In 2014 alone, there were 47 children transported from Medical Center Hospital to other facilities for traumatic care. These are only numbers from ONE local hospital. It does not include Odessa Regional, Midland Memorial or any other hospitals from the surrounding towns. I know 47 doesn't sound like many, but for the families that had to go through this process, I can promise this number is far too large!
Sam's Race has partnered up with Medical Center Hospital in Odessa to bring the critical care we need for our children here. So that if it is ever needed, it is available. Beginning in 2015 Medical Center Hospital is doing a full pediatric rennovation on the pediatric floor and re-opening what used to be a pediatric ICU. At this time it is going to be a pediatric intermediate unit, but it will be rennovavted to make the transition to pediatric ICU seemlessly. All of this take a great deal of time and money to accomplish. Sam's Race, Inc. has worked hard for the last 4 years to raise money to make this a reality, but our work is far from done. Please consider making a donation or attending our yearly fundraiser to help us continue our mission in Samantha's name.
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So now what, our beautiful ray of sunshine is gone. We are left to find our way back to Odessa. We were so blessed that some amazing friends made the trip there to be with us when they found out about Sam. They arrived just after she passed away, but without them I don't know how we would have made the long trip home. I don't remember much of that day or the days following.
Emergency help arrives...
the wait begins..
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a REALITY in the
Sam stops breathing...