Facial Reconstruction Surgery Planned For Oologah Boy Stricken With Meningitis
By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
OOLOGAH, OK -- A Green Country boy who nearly lost his life to bacterial meningitis is preparing to be transferred to a children's hospital in Cincinnati.
Six-year-old Jeremiah Mitchell of Oologah has been in the Children's Hospital at Saint Francis since March 11th. He needs facial reconstruction surgery after his bout with the disease. Jeremiah has already had his arms and legs amputated just to survive.
"They had to take more than we anticipated so it was pretty heart wrenching on the family, it really was. Because he just has little, tiny nubs, that makes prosthetics a little more complicated and there will be so many changes over the years until he's an adult," said Gidget Mitchell, Jeremiah's grandmother.
Jeremiah is now able to shake his head to answer familiar voices, but his grandmother says he still has a long way to go. Next week he leaves for Ohio and facial reconstruction surgery.
"Severe damage here and deep damage up the side and halfway into the eyes. His eyelids are real bad, so he can't open his eyes on his own because of the boo-boo's. That's what we're telling him, they're boo-boo's," said Mitchell.
Terry Sheehan, M.D., is the Medical Director for the Amputee Coalition of America. He said Jeremiah's needs will last over his lifetime.
"With rapid growth, the needs to adjust will be frequent to keep up. They will start from the immediate post-operative period and demand the close collaboration of the young boy, his family and care team to have a successful outcome," Dr. Sheehan said.
"Children naturally adapt quickly and will often lead the way for the team to follow with regard to the next intervention. This includes initial prosthesis, playing again, body image adjustment and peer to peer interactions. The child will take his cues from the parents and family members -- if they are comfortable with his new body, he will be comfortable with himself."
The outbreak in Oologah killed two of Jeremiah's classmates and sent five others, including Jeremiah, to the hospital. The other four children have since been released and are recovering at home.
The health department says they consider the outbreak over, saying they haven't had any new cases reported in nearly two weeks. Since it started, they've administered close to 1,000 antibiotic shots and more than 1,400 vaccines.
Mitchell says her grandson's spirit is strong and they're trusting God to guide his recovery.
"Jeremiah is in (God's) hands and he's dealing with it real well. He has a plan for this little boy that is yet to unfold, but with the grace of God, that's how we're holding together," said Mitchell.
Mitchell encourages everyone ages two and up to get vaccinated for meningitis.
How to help Jeremiah Mitchell:
An account has been set up at Lakeside State Bank in Oologah to help Jeremiah's family with medical bills. The account is called "Jeremiah Mitchell."
Checks can be sent to the bank at Box 190 Oologah, Oklahoma, 74053.
Donations can also be dropped off at the bank: 12602 S. Highway 169 in Oologah.