The highlight of Amanda and Allyson Kimani’s special mother-daughter day out on March 5, 2016, was to be Disney on Ice in their hometown of Fort Wayne, Ind. But Allyson, then 8, fell asleep twice at the spectacular show. Amanda, who works in the medical field, knew something was up with her “always happy and outgoing” daughter.
A local clinic diagnosed Allyson with influenza A, which quickly worsened. Within a few days her flu, combined with streptococcus infection, led to septic shock, cardiac dysfunction and multiple organs system failure. Allyson was airlifted from Parkview Regional Medical Center to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. During the flight, her oxygen saturation and blood pressure were dangerously low, but the team—one of the most experienced critical care IU Health LifeLine crews—kept her heart functioning.
When she got to Riley on March 8, Allyson was placed on an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which provided 100 percent support to her heart and lungs. Allyson would spend the next month in Riley’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), where her team would involve the expertise of more than 30 Riley specialists and the hospital’s state-of-the-art technology.
Lack of blood supply to Allyson’s right leg caused the tissue to die, and surgeons had to remove her leg above the knee on March 18. “I didn’t even hesitate,” Amanda says. “I told Dr. Bertrand [Riley Orthopedic Surgeon Todd Bertrand, M.D.], ‘If you need to amputate her leg to save her life, Allyson and I will go pick out her new leg together.’ And we did.”
The girl who was given little chance of survival went home on May 10 after a nine-week stay that included inpatient rehabilitation. Amanda credits everyone at Riley with not only saving her daughter, but also taking care of her family. The Kimanis say they are especially grateful to Riley Pediatric Critical Care Physician Riad Lutfi, M.D., and Erica Olsen, R.N.
In mid-July, just after her ninth birthday, Allyson received her Hello Kitty ® prosthetic leg. She goes to physical and occupational therapy twice a week, where, her mother laughs , “she likes to talk the whole time.”
The fourth-grader at Franke Park Elementary School shares her story in her community. Local news crews were on hand when she returned to Riley to thank her care teams: “I just wanted to see the doctors and nurses again, because they’re nice,” Allyson explains.
And her longer-term goal: this spirited Champion wants to become a physician and work at Riley Hospital—“because I want to help people.