For Elowyn “Wynnie” Gibson of Darwin, it started with a temperature.
“She had a fever for a couple of days before we took her in,” said her mom Megan. “At the young age of 3 years old, she'd kind of go in and out — a burst of energy and then lethargic and tired when the fever would spike up.”
Wynnie was diagnosed with what was thought to be a minor case of pneumonia. She was sent home and although she was on medication, her fever kept spiking.
“We took her back in,” Megan said. “Her oxygen levels had dropped and she needed to go to Children's Hospital.”
Fortunately, with no COVID-19 symptoms and Wynnie testing negative for the virus, both parents were allowed to be with their daughter in the hospital.
Her diagnosis was bacterial pneumonia. The infection had eaten a hole through her lung and leaked into the chest cavity.
“When we got there, they did a CT scan,” Megan said. “The infection had become gelatinous. They surgically inserted a chest tube and she was sedated and on a ventilator for four days."
Treatments were administered through the chest tube, and the infection also drained from the chest tube.”
It was during her 17-day hospital stay in October 2020 that Julie Dengerud, a board member of the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation and owner of Wynnie's preschool, Mighty Dragons in Litchfield, reached out to the family and shared information about the foundation. Megan said she was familiar with it because a cousin of a cousin's child had been a recipient a couple of years earlier.
“She told us, 'We'd love to help Wynnie,'" Megan said. “We applied while we were in the hospital. We faxed the application back to Julie. I had heard of the foundation but I wasn't aware of how much they do — the auctions and raffles they put on. This year is a little different with COVID. They're not able to do all those things.”
It was Ralph Johnson, a longtime Tim Orth Foundation supporter, who called Megan with the good news: “We'd love to help you out.”
The financial support from the foundation will be used to pay medical bills Wynnie incurred during her hospital stay and for physical therapy after her release.
Six months after Wynnie's hospitalization, she has fully recovered from her ordeal. Her mom described her as a "normal child with lots of energy." The hope is that her bout with bacterial pneumonia was a one-time deal.
When it comes to the Tim Orth Memorial Foundation, Megan has nothing but good things to say.
“Yes, definitely apply,” she said. “Any little bit helps out when a family has bills coming in. We've been so lucky to have them.”