Family Waits As Oologah Meningitis Victim Undergoes Surgery In Ohio
By Jeffrey Smith and NewsOn6.com
CINCINNATI, OH -- An Oologah kindergartner had surgery Thursday morning as he takes another step on his long road to recovery.
Jeremiah Mitchell, a survivor of the Oologah meningitis outbreak in March, underwent skin graft surgery at the Shriners Hospitals For Children in Cincinnati. He has been in the hospital for three weeks, and he'll stay in the hospital for another three months.
His father, Dan Mitchell, and grandmother Gidget Mitchell watch and wait.
"The emotion of it's hard, every minute," Dan Mitchell said. "I fall down; they pick me up. They fall down; I pick them up."
Jeremiah's undergoing his second skin graft surgery of the week to repair damaged skin on his face. Meningitis has killed the skin covering most of his face.
"We're still trying to get to healthy enough tissue that hopefully, in a week or two, we can begin grafting his own skin," Dr. Richard Kagan, Jeremiah's surgeon, said after one of the grafting surgeries.
Meanwhile, Jeremiah's family must deal with their own pain.
"The hardest part for me is walking in the room, and his eyes are open," Dan Mitchell said. "He looks at you, and his arms reach out wanting to be held - but you can't."
Jeremiah is expected to be at the Ohio hospital for about a month before returning to Tulsa. Another surgery is scheduled for next week. The 6-year-old had both legs and arms amputated at a Tulsa hospital last month and faces many more surgeries.
Upon arrival in Cincinnati earlier this week, Jeremiah was immediately placed in a specialized Intensive Care Unit.
"As long as he's alive, that's what I care about," said Jeremiah's father, Dan Mitchell. "He'll live, and he'll live a good life. We'll make sure of that."
Fundraising Efforts For Jeremiah
Cox Radio says the fundraiser it hosted on behalf of the family on Wednesday has now raised more than $70,000.
The fundraiser lasted less than four hours Wednesday morning and was staffed by employees of AM 740 and FM 102.3 NewsTalk KRMG, F&M Bank and members of the Fraternal Order of Police from the Tulsa area, including Tulsa, Jenks, Owasso, Broken Arrow, Glenpool, Bixby and Collinsville.
How To Help Jeremiah's Family
The family is requesting that Walmart gift cards be sent to them in Cincinnati to help them take care of basic needs.
Gift cards can be sent to:
Shriners Hospital for Children
c/o Jeremiah Mitchell
3229 Burnet Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45229
A fund has also been set up for the Mitchell family at Lakeside State Bank in Oologah. Call (918) 443-2474 to donate or mail donations to:
Jeremiah Mitchell Fund
c/o Lakeside State Bank
Oologah, OK 74053