Progress Of OK Teen That Overcame Meningitis Amazes, Inspires Community

Thursday, September 27th 2018, 8:43 pm
By: News On 6

Jeremiah Mitchell was a healthy, active kindergartner when he and other children contracted bacterial meningitis at Oologah elementary school in 2010.

Two of the children died. Jeremiah nearly did too, but doctors saved his life by amputating his arms and legs. The disease also killed his facial skin, requiring numerous skin graft surgeries.

His progress amazed and inspired the community who raised a lot of money to help Jeremiah's family through the crisis.

Jeremiah is now 14 and just started high school. In many ways, he's a typical teenager - he loves to play video games and his mom, Michaela Mitchell, said it takes them longer to make sure his hair is just right in the mornings than the rest of his getting ready routine.

Jeremiah goes to Will Rogers High school and will be a fourth-generation graduate.

He uses his leg prosthetics more than his arms because his arms make it harder to write and play video games.

His leg prosthetics are good for short distances, but for getting across campus, he uses his wheelchair.

His mom takes him to school, helps get him to class and get settled. He also has a paraprofessional. Michaela goes back at noon to help with the bathroom, and sometimes again if his prosthetics need adjusting, and then she picks him up.

It's Michaela’s full-time job, but a job she loves, even though it is getting tougher as she gets older and he gets heavier.

"I've never really questioned or been mad about it. We just have to survive it," she said.

Jeremiah uses a strap around his nub to hold his pencil or pen, which allows him to write.

About every year, he has another surgery - they've recently worked on his chin and are working on his lips.

"We don't count the surgeries. We just pray before and thank God afterwards," Michaela said.

Jeremiah has lots of friends. He said moving to a new school where no one knew his story wasn't as hard as he thought.

He also understands people are going to look.

"I'd prefer if people would ask about what happened, but I understand that you might want to see me because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.

Jeremiah plans to graduate high school, go to college and create video games. He fully plans to drive when he becomes 16.

"Hopefully, I can get a motorcycle license and ride a motorcycle," he said.

And, why not? For a kid who has overcome great odds and done things no one ever thought he could.

He is faster and fiercer behind a game console than a lot of kids with hands.

You won't find self-pity in Jeremiah.

"Not really because, I mean, my life is pretty good, and I can't imagine what it would be like if I still had my arms and legs, so, I think everything worked out for the best," he said.

Another big hurdle was the loss of Jeremiah's dad three years ago. He was a huge help and support and it's been tough for Jeremiah and his mom, but they just keep going.

"One day at a time," Michaela said.

Jeremiah has big dreams and the will to accomplish them and hopes others will do the same.

"I want people to know that just because something happens in your life, like what happened to me, it doesn't mean that's the end. You can still make a difference in the world and try to be better," he said.

Community donations helped the Mitchells get a new home in Tulsa.