On January 13, 2007, six-year-old Colton Boechler came down with the flu. Unknown to his parents, this common illness would within days have Colton fighting for his life.
When he first became ill, Colton’s condition gave no clues to what lay ahead. The day unfolded as usual for parents Julie and Kelly Boechler until, late in the day, the normally energetic and outgoing Colton began to complain of a headache.
“The headache was just pounding,” recalls Julie. “And that was alarming because a headache usually goes away with Tylenol.”
Within hours, the pain was excruciating and Julie whisked him off to the Emergency Department at BC Children’s Hospital. Whatever was hurting Colton, it was swift and ferocious.
As Julie sat by Colton’s bedside at BC Children’s, her son suddenly went into cardiac arrest.
The influenza virus had ripped through Colton’s body attacking his immune system, targeting his heart and lungs, and then triggering kidney failure. Doctors were forced to place the youngster on a high-tech life support machine he remained on life support for 25 days.
As his family tried to remain optimistic, Colton’s care team felt obliged to prepare his parents for the real chance their son would come away with brain damage from the combined effects of the illness, and the extended and intense medical treatment that was keeping him alive.
Yet somehow, the odds that had sent him tumbling on a downward spiral turned in his favour. After three months in intensive care, he was well enough to be sent home.
“All the doctors who had anything to do with Colton said time and time again that his recovery was a miracle,” says Colton’s dad, Kelly.
Today, Colton has made a remarkable return to his former self. He is able to enjoy his favourite sports, hockey and baseball, with vigour. Though he still returns to Children’s when he catches a bug, through the care and support of BC Children’s Hospital and his family, Colton is back where he needs to be – at home with his family.
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