Andrew Franklin: Small Chance
By Raquel Dunn and Rob Hull
The 700 Club
It was a September day in Knoxville, Tennessee. Andrew Franklin rode his bike as his father, Tom, looked on. Neither knew that their lives were about to change.
“Andrew started pushing on his eyes saying, ‘Daddy my head hurts.’ He asked for some Benadryl because he’d been having allergy problems. So Tom put a wet washcloth on his head,” Andrew’s mother said.
This was not a case of allergies. Andrew’s parents didn’t know it at the time, but a clot had stopped the flow of blood on the left side of his brain. Andrew was having a massive stroke.
“Tom was bent over talking to him, and when he raised up he had this look on his face, and it was just pure terror. He said, ‘I can’t get him to respond to me. He won’t, he won’t talk to me.’ He would throw up and suck it back in because he was breathing so hard and it was very scary,” his mother said. “And I said, ‘We need to go to the hospital right now.’”
For the next two days the doctors at Children’s Hospital used every tool they had to diagnose Andrew’s condition.
“The blood pressure was normal, temperature was normal, pupils were reactive,” his mother said. “And then they tried to get him to stand on the scale, and his legs just went limp and he couldn’t stand. So they were stunned. They didn’t know what was going on.”
Critical time was passing. Finally, after taking an MRI, Andrew’s doctor delivered devastating news. He told them that Andrew was in trouble and that it was really bad. He said Andrew had a stroke, a really bad stroke.
“I couldn’t believe he was telling me that my little boy was about to die, because he was fine the other day,” his mother said. “I mean two days before, there was nothing wrong with him. It was almost like, this can’t be happening. It was almost like watching it on TV.”
The only hope the doctors offered was a risky brain surgery, rarely performed on children.
Dr. Kevin Brinkmann from Children’s Hospital said, “Andrew had suffered, what we documented, was a very large stroke in a big blood vessel in the left side of his brain. And the left side of the brain for most people, about 95 percent of people, is the dominant part of the brain that’s responsible for most things, like speech and language. And at that point in time, Andrew was very critical."
“And the challenge with Andrew was, not only were we working in smaller arteries than were in a normal human, but now we have even smaller because they are inside a child,” Dr. Keith Woodword said.
“I walked over and he was laying on the table and he looked so small. I just could not, I still could not believe this was happening. He had all of these I-Vs, and they had a cap on his head, and I was just talking to him. And I said, “Just don’t leave me, come back to me, okay?’ We got to kiss him and tell him we loved him. Then the doctors said ‘We’ve got to go,’” his mother said.
As they rolled Andrew away to the operating room, the only thing Andrew’s family and friends could do was pray.
“Everybody in the room gathered and held hands in a humongous circle and just said a prayer of thanks. And anybody that wanted to pray could pray out loud. With each prayer that we told, that we said, it took the sadness and the fear away. It took it completely away and it was replaced with love and joy and happiness. At the saddest time of my life it was the happiest time of my life too, because there is such power… I’ve never experience anything like it,” his mother said.
Two hours passed. Andrew survived the surgery, but his prognosis remained grim.
“He [the doctor] says, ‘If he even survives, most likely he will be in a wheelchair. He could be blind. He may never walk, never talk, he will be severely … he won’t be the same.’ I almost just let it go in one ear and out the other, because I prayed nonstop and that’s not what God was telling me,” his mother said.
Andrew spent two weeks in intensive care. He was in and out of consciousness, but unresponsive.
“One of the last nights that he was in intensive care he was awake and I noticed he was looking at the TV and I thought, okay. So I handed him the remote control and he changed the channel! So I knew he was in there. I knew he was in there,” his mother said.
Over the next few days Andrew’s recovery progressed dramatically. He began breathing on his own, so the doctor removed his ventilator, and then his feeding tube. Soon he was able to speak and move well beyond the expectations of his doctors.
“His progress was remarkable compared to when I first saw him. He could not talk. He could speak or understand speech. He could not move his right arm or his right leg at all at that point,” Dr. Woodword said. “I think it’s a miracle that he’s survived and is doing as well as he is, yes.”
Within a month of the stroke Andrew was walking again. And in just four months Andrew met all of his rehabilitation goals. Mobility on his right side continues to improve.
“He does everything a regular 10-year-old boy would do. He can run, he can swim. He is the strongest one armed swimmer I’ve ever seen,” his mother said.
“God had shown me so many things in that short amount of time. I know I can trust Him and He was telling me to trust Him, so that’s what I did. That’s all I had to do was trust him,” his mother said.Can God change your life?
“And you know, I hope we’re never ever put in a position like that again. But I know that no matter what comes at us God is there; He will never leave us alone. And He will get us through it and He will see us through to the other side,” his mother said.
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