Mitchell native and NBA star Mike Miller is hosting his annual "Night of Hope" event Saturday July 26th at The District in Sioux Falls. It's a night filled with entertainment, but it's also benefit's Sanford Children's Hospital. Two year old Renner Wollman and his family are this year's ambassadors for the night and if anyone knows what Sanford's NICU staff is capable of it's them. Nancy Naeve has their story.
How do you not smile when you see that sweet face and hear those little screeches of joy. Renner Jake Wollman from Sioux Falls loves being in the arms of his mommy and daddy, Brian and Karen, and on occasion getting a little air. (Brian tosses him into the air)
Renner just celebrated his 2nd birthday, which is a milestone. His brother and sister Riley and Paisley are always willing to help him break in his new presents, especially if it's a ball.
For a little boy who spent the first 6 1/2 months of his life in the NICU, 3 1/2 of those on life-support, we can't even begin to imagine the joy he brings to the family who thought they'd never bring him home.
"So the amnio informed us that he had Down syndrome and yes, every ultrasound kind of showed that he was swelling with fluid. Right around 33 weeks is when they told us that it was hydrops fetalis and that he would likely be still born," Karen said.
Karen ended up having an emergency c-section. Clinging to life, doctors swept Renner away. Brian watched as doctors went to work on their extremely swollen son who was going into renal failure.
"The told us, we don't know it could be weeks, it could be months, but we will not survive," Karen said.
They did not give up. They prayed and stayed as positive as they could even as he got sicker. At 2 1/2 months Sanford specialists put Renner in a medically induced paralysis. He was maxed out on life support. He couldn't get any sicker and survive.
"Dr. Kahn came to me and said "What do you want? We knew the end was near. I said I want him off the paralytic and I just want to hold him. I just felt he needed to be held. Even on that special ventilator, they let me hold him and I held him for 4 hours that day. And little by little from that moment on he started making improvements, “Karen said.
And eventually on January 11, 2013, they brought their strong-willed determined-to-live little miracle boy home.
"That 6 1/2 months really, to me, wasn't anything compared to what it felt like to know that he might not get to have a life," Karen teared up.
Look at him now; he climbs stairs, says momma andDadaa, and blows kisses that melt your heart. His spirit is contagious.
"Sky's the limit. Hopefully, if he stays healthy, maybe starts walking and starts doing what other kids do," Brian said.
"I've always said that with every heartbeat is a heartbeat of gratitude for what was done for Renner because it's just , it's something so beautiful what I mean we're forever grateful for it and it's just amazing," Karen said.
I don't think it was just Renner's will to live that pulled him through. He had a whole clan that knew their life would not be complete without him in it. I wouldn't want to live without that face either.
The Wollmans are so appreciative of the care they got at Sanford, they are proud to tell their story at Mike Miller's Night of Hope Event at the District of July 26. Following the program Sister Hazel is performing at 9:30. General tickets cost $20 or $25 at the door.
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