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Many of the families who come to Cook Children's Medical Center don't know what their child's fate or future might look like once they leave. It's an uncomfortable feeling that Alan and Kristi Wilson experieinced firsthand when an accident turned their world upside down.
Kinzie "Kiki" Wilson was just 11 years old when she suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2013. While riding a horse at a friend's house, she fell off and hit her head on a metal pipe fence.
Knowing the injury was serious, her family immediately called 911 and she was flown by helicopter to Cook Children's Medical Center. Kiki endured seven hours of surgery to repair the left side of her skull and face. Surgeons removed pieces of her fractured skull that were creating pressure on her brain, as well as the shattered area around her eye and cheek.
The doctors told Alan and Kristi that they couldn't be sure of what would happen with Kiki. Even if she lived, she could have damage to her brain and eye. For five days, the family struggled with the uncertainty of all the possibilities. They described those days ... as "living in hell."
"Finally, diagnosis is SHE'S GONNA MAKE IT," Alan wrote in his daily email to friends and family. "They're 99% certain, but that's close enough for me! Still won't know what, if any, long-term effects may be ... and I don't care, as long as she makes it. She'll still be in ICU a few more days, then I'll let you know when she's ready for visitors."
After 12 days at Cook Children's, Kiki went home. And four years later, she's still defying the odds.
A post on "Kiki's Amazing Journey" Facebook page from this past October reads: "Kiki (Kinzie) was officially released from all doctors from her accident. She had her last neurosurgeon appointment Friday with Dr. Roberts. She looks great, is doing well, and has stopped growing so he doesn't need to see her again. He is OK with her drag racing and cheerleading. Praise God for each of her doctors, Roberts (neurosurgeon), Camp (plastic surgeon) and Alford (eye surgeon). We are amazed every day of her recovery. Definitely our miracle kid!"
During Kiki's time at Cook Children's, the Wilson family saw an outpouring of love and support from friends and family. They asked that, in lieu of flowers or balloons, gifts be made to a fund that had been set up by friends to help cover medical expenses. Any money beyond the medical expenses would be donated to Cook Children's.
"Cook Children's is amazing and we would really like to give back. Lots of people have donated to this place to make it what it is ... a comforting place for uncomfortable times," said Alan.
In the end, the family's insurance policy covered all of Kiki's medical expenses, so the Wilsons were able to donate the funds to Cook Children's, to help other patients, like their daughter.
Four years later, Kiki and her family are still giving back to the patients at Cook Children's. They donate funds and in-kind items. This past fall, they participated in our KSCS Cook Children's Radiothon, where they shared their story live on air, inspiring radio listeners to call in and give.
Kiki's recovery has been called a miracle. Thanks to our donors, we are able to make miracles happen here every day.
Your generosity does not go unnoticed by others. It is emulated by those who realize its value to the community. It is revered by those who care for our patients because it enables them to do what they do best. And it is appreciated by every patient and every family who benefits from it.
Thank you from each family, patient, nurse, physician and staff member whose life you will have touched with your generosity.