Amazing Kids, Amazing Stories: Kade's Story

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Amazing Kids, Amazing Stories: Kade's Story

Kade, American Family Children's Hospital patientWatching 10-year-old Kade Vance putter around the family farm, one almost sees a Norman Rockwell painting come to life. Kade was born to roam the farm, and it is hard to imagine him growing up in any other environment.

A week before his seventh birthday, however, Kade's life hung in the balance after being gravely injured in a horrible car crash along with his sister, Karsen, and their dad, Dave.

On a drizzly, November afternoon in 2004, Dave was driving the two kids from their rural Delavan farm to Janesville in search of a birthday present for their mom, Jill.

Just before reaching a hilly, obstructed intersection, another driver heading south at 70 mph came out of nowhere, blew through the stop sign and smashed straight into the Vance's car.

Immediately after the Vance's car turned end-over-end repeatedly, Kade was thrown about 40 feet from the vehicle. Dave and Karsen, who also would sustain severe injuries, remained in the car before it finally came to a stop.

After an initial stop at Mercy Hospital in Janesville, Kade was rushed by ambulance to what is now the American Family Children's Hospital in Madison.

"I was convinced he was going to die on the way to Madison," recalls Jill. "When we got there, I remember someone sat me down and shut the door. I said, 'You don't have to shut the door to tell me that he died.'"

Kade refused to succumb, however. A few hours later, Pediatric Trauma Coordinator Lynne Sears, RN, MS, put her hands on Jill's shoulders and looked her straight in the eye.

"He is not going to die!"

Not quite sure if she could believe Sears' assurance, Jill told herself she could handle any outcome short of planning her son's funeral.

Kade's injury report was truly numbing: a severe closed head injury, bruising in his lungs and liver, facial lacerations and a neck injury. He was on life support for the first two weeks. Slowly, Kade began to understand what he heard, but it would be months before he could speak or eat food by mouth. He would not start walking again until last summer - some 30 months after the crash.

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Supported by an incredibly strong family and Children's Hospital specialists in trauma, neurosurgery, physical/occupational/speech therapies and rehabilitation services, Kade has made an amazing recovery.

"Kade has come a long way from those first weeks and continues to improve," Sears says. "He is truly a miracle boy who brings so much joy to everyone."

Kade's mom, Jill, agrees.

"Despite everything," she says, "we have been very fortunate. It has also made us better people because we don't take things for granted."