Avera Medical Minute: Parents send thank you letter to nurse who helped save son’s life

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Published: Apr. 18, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -

When Mike and Kerri McKim watch their son Owen McKim energetically make his way around the kitchen, it’s hard to believe just how sick he was two months ago.

Last February, Owen had suffered from a headache for several days and was home in bed.

My mom took my temperature, and it was 105,” said Owen.

His symptoms were first addressed close to home.

“I’m really grateful that the staff even here at Lakes Regional in Spirit Lake were able to recognize what I had and get me to Sioux Falls where I could get the help that I needed,” said Owen.

He was transported to Avera McKennan Hospital, before what his Dad describes as falling off a cliff.

“At that point, he had gone into heart failure and lung failure,” said Mike.

Owen was in ICU for five days, diagnosed with MIS-C or Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a response to COVID-19. Even after improving, there was still something puzzling. He was extremely irritable and lethargic...not the Owen his family knew.

“Abby, one of the nurses was talking to my wife, and, you know agreed that this something’s not right,” said Mike.

Avera nurse Abby Schulte followed her gut.

“He wasn’t turning around, he’d been sick for a couple of days in the ICU and since he’d come back, he just still been so tired and so sick,” said Abby. “I ended up doing a deeper assessment with him and talking to his mom more about this day and ended up calling the doctor that night.”

The medical team found an answer, thanks to Abby advocating for him.

“She did a great job of, you know, digging into the numbers and the things that they were monitoring and determined there was, his ammonia levels were way too high for what they should have been,” said Mike.

Owen responded favorably to treatment. The McKim family, grateful for their son’s incredible recovery wrote a letter of gratitude for Abby, the persistent nurse who kept looking for answers. Abby reads a portion of the letter:

She recognized that something in his case was being missed or wasn’t adding up...and she encouraged me to stay and wait for the results even offering to bring in a cot so I can spend the night if I wanted...And we are particularly thankful for your very amazing nurse Abby. With deep gratitude, Kerri and Mike McKim

“I actually had the letter read to me for the first time. My boss read it to me in front of our floor and I actually teared up, it was one of the most meaningful things I’ve received as a nurse,” said Abby.

Abby is quick to credit the entire team who helped with Owen’s care. Those doctors and nurses appreciated the update on Owen and the words from the thankfulness from his parents.

“Just two months ago, he was flat in the bed, and we didn’t know what the future would be like, said Kerri. ”That he could not be here definitely makes you grateful for maybe some of the things that we took for granted before... being here together and being in the kitchen and just being a family. Definitely makes you grateful, said Kerri.”

Owen spent 16 days in the hospital and followed up with physical therapy to regain his strength. Being in the kitchen and able to cook for his family is one of his favorite places to be. His recovery of health and strength brings freedom to plan for the future, including perhaps being a chef someday.

“I am getting better every day. Thank you for saving my life,” said Owen.

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