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Miracle drug, miracle healing

June 01, 2012 by Beth Anne Atkins

Miracle drug, miracle healing 
After suffering a life-threatening heart attack and brain injury, Miranda Hale, 14, has an amazing recovery thanks to care at Vidant Children’s Hospital 

GREENVILLE, NC – Heart failure left Miranda Hale, 14, facing the long-term effects of brain damage, but through the use of a special drug, she’s back at school. She even resumed one of her favorite activities – making scrapbooks. 

The beautiful pages she creates are a happy sign of how far she’s come since suffering a heart attack and brain injury in 2011. From birth, Miranda has suffered from a disorder that prevents her heart from pumping efficiently. It left her short of breath and easily fatigued. She has taken medication all of her life. 

Her condition took a deadly turn during a New Year’s Day visit with family in Virginia. Her mother, who was in Greenville at the time, got the call that her daughter was having seizures and not breathing. 

“I said, ‘I don’t know what you have to do, but get her back to Greenville,’” Vickie Hale remembers. She wanted her back at Vidant Children’s Hospital for her care. 

She stayed in the pediatric intensive care unit for more than two months and then moved to the pediatric rehabilitation unit, one of only two like it in the state. Now she’s back at her Tarboro home with her mother and father, Keith Hale. She’s attending school and relearning skills she lost during her illness. 

“She’s walking, talking and going to school three times a week,” her mother says. “She had some effects from it, but it’s not like it could have been. Everyone is amazed when they see her and see how well she’s doing. She’s a walking, talking miracle.” 

Miranda Hale is one of this year’s miracle children for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She will represent Vidant Children’s Hospital during this year’s Celebration Broadcast. The yearly fundraising event, now in its 27th year, is set to air June 1 and 3 on WITN. The 2012 miracle children, in addition to Miranda, are Evan Salerno, 3, of Jacksonville at Camp Lejeune; Kennedy Dean, 7, of Pikeville in Wayne County; and Ava Gee, 6, of Greenville. The teen ambassador is Davie Swinson, 18, of Onslow County. They recovered from serious illness or injury through the medical care they received at Vidant Children’s Hospital in Greenville. 

“This year’s Miracle Children are unbelievable,” says Dr. Ronald M. Perkin, co-director of Vidant Children’s Hospital and professor and chairman, department of pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. “Each one’s ability to carry on with a successful life is due to a response to the medical needs we provided when they most desperately needed it. Having this hospital in the community is what that’s all about.” 

“The community shows how much it cares about children by providing contributions to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals,” he says. “In turn, their generosity grants us the resources we need to see beyond the obvious treatments and save more lives.” 

This year, the broadcast will celebrate these children and the generous donors whose gifts made their life-saving care possible. Their support is helping with the expansion of Vidant Children’s Hospital. It will add 78,000 additional square feet for children’s care, including a new kids immunosuppressed special unit with a controlled environment and special ventilation systems to reduce the possibility for infection. It will have a treatment and recovery area for children who do not need an overnight stay. A newborn convalescent area will give newborns and their families private rooms while they grow stronger. 

“Our donors make the difference for children throughout eastern North Carolina,” says Laura Lee Potter, program director for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. “They save lives and bring miracles to thousands of children each year by sharing their financial resources, volunteer hours and other types of support. Their generosity makes sure we can provide advanced medical care, close to home, to the families and children who depend on us.” 
Miranda has overcome many obstacles thanks to the outstanding medical care she has received for her heart defect. She has undergone two heart surgeries from physicians at the Brody School of Medicine, which allowed her to live a more normal life. Yet even with the best care, she remained vulnerable. 

Her heart attack could have left her in a vegetative state. That was unacceptable to her doctors, who included Perkin. He spent time with Miranda and her family, getting to know them before making his treatment recommendations. That included using a special medication in a new way to treat her muscle spasms. It was an unusual approach that required close consultation with the family. 

“She was starting to recover, but we saw tremendous spasticity, which was causing problems,” Perkin says. “We recognized a medication that had been proven useful in other conditions, but not in her type of situation. The risks were high, and we informed the parents and monitored it closely. In the end, it worked spectacularly. There was a dramatic improvement.” 

Her mother saw an immediate change. 

“She could not sit up in a wheelchair, but the next morning they were able to sit her up on the side of the bed,” she says. “To me, that was promising enough to keep trying.” 

“It’s been wonderful for her,” Vickie says. “It’s been a long journey, but we still have her.” 
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