Amazing Kids, Amazing Stories: Camryn's Story

Pediatric Critical Care

Amazing Kids, Amazing Stories: Camryn's Story

Camryn on the road to recoverySitting in a large recliner in her room at American Family Children’s Hospital, 12-year-old Camryn Porter of Reedsburg, Wisconsin, looks up at her parents, Jen Engebretson and Alex Porter.

Camryn's voice is soft, but the words capture a harsh truth.

"I was this close to going up to heaven," she says, holding her thumb and forefinger a half-inch apart.

Indeed, she was. Just days after Christmas 2010, a perfectly healthy Camryn suddenly became acutely ill with no apparent cause. Her abdomen began swelling with fluid as she went into a coma-like state for several weeks, unable to breathe, speak or eat on her own.

After weeks of undergoing nearly every medical test imaginable, Camryn was finally diagnosed with a rare streptococcal infection in her abdomen that triggered septic shock syndrome – resulting in a near total shutdown of her body's vital organs.

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"Camryn's body underwent countless chemical reactions, causing infection-fighting cells to also attack her kidneys, lungs and digestive system," says UW Health Pediatric Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Lynne Sears, RN, MS.

"About six weeks in the hospital went by before her fever subsided and we knew she would come around."

Scott Hagen, MD, Medical Director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, says Camryn's recovery illustrates the team-based approach at American Family Children's Hospital.

"Throughout her 10 weeks in the hospital, Camryn was cared for by pediatric specialists from cardiology, general surgery, pulmonology, endocrinology, infectious disease, critical care and health psychology," Dr. Hagen says. "It took many great minds working together to get this girl back to health."