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Team Effort: Henry’s Story

Henry Wooten’s parents expected their three-year-old’s ER visit to result in a routine prescription for an infection. Instead, they were told their son had leukemia – and an especially aggressive type known as AML.

Henry’s condition quickly declined in a domino effect of bodily systems shutting down, including lungs, liver, kidneys and finally, his heart. Fortunately for Henry, he was being treated at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent, one of the few medical centers in the state with access to ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), an advanced form of life support technology that acts as a heart/lung bypass to let major organ systems rest while the body recovers.

“At the time we put him on ECMO, he had five different organ systems failing; that predicts a greater than 90 percent mortality rate,” states Dr. Kay Sichting, medical director of ECMO and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent. “In Henry’s case, it was absolutely life-saving for him. ECMO is only done in specialized centers because it does take a lot of training and a lot of special equipment.”

Kim Wooten is grateful Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent was there for her son. “He was on life-support for five days,” she says. “He had cords coming out of him everywhere. If we were to have to pick up and go somewhere else, who knows what could’ve happened.”

Dr. Doug Cipkala, pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent, was impressed with his young patient’s fortitude in the face of such drastic medical intervention. “Henry has the strength and courage that I don’t see in most adults,” claims Dr. Cipkala. “He could go through any procedure, any chemotherapy drug, and the next day bounce back like nothing happened.”

After extensive recovery and physical therapy with the care team at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St.Vincent, Henry did indeed bounce back. “He’s doing great. He’s 100 percent recovered,” says Henry’s mom. “Not only did his organs recover,” adds Dr. Cipkala, “he has been in remission now for 2 1/2 years, which is phenomenal.”

Life-saving technology such as ECMO and innovative therapies for pediatric cancer are expensive. But the generous support of donors to the St.Vincent Foundation gives stories like Henry Wooten’s a happy ending.

“He is an example of truly what teamwork is all about because he touched almost every specialty we have here at Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital,” says Dr. Sichting. “And you look at him today and it truly is a miracle that he’s here.” Dr. Cipkala agrees. “Every contribution helps patients like Henry to survive their disease to grow up and be healthy adults.”

Show your support of kids in need and tune into the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital Telethon on Tuesday, September 1 on RTV6. 

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