Carter Ballard had his first open heart surgery at nine days old and had his second at eight months old. Diagnosed with multiple heart defects, Carter received a tracheostomy tube shortly before his first birthday.
After spending the first year of his life in a hospital ward, Carter was admitted to Bethany Children’s Health Center in July of 2020, dependent on a ventilator and feeding tube. Carter’s mom, Charlee, says, “Carter wasn’t able to sit up. He was basically bed bound. He didn’t have a lot of muscle and had no motor skills at all.”
Bethany Children’s Health Center in Bethany, Oklahoma, is a private, non-profit pediatric hospital that specializes in 24-hour complex care and medical rehabilitation. The Hospital’s multidisciplinary teams work with patients and their families to maximize every child’s God-given potential, and ensure the family has the training and resources needed for a smooth transition from hospital to home.
Patients from infants to teens participate in a range of therapies and activities daily. “For kids here, the goal is to play. From there we progress to learning how to do things like get dressed, take a bath and brush your teeth for yourself,” says Mallory Crosier, Occupational Therapist.
Practicing activities of daily living are an important part of rehabilitation for children of all ages, and with the support of generous donors, Bethany Children’s recently opened its Adaptive Recreation and Fine Arts Center, the only one of its kind associated with a pediatric hospital. Children can practice everyday activities in realistic settings such as a house, car and school bus, and participate in aquatic, music and art therapies. A new adaptive sports field hosts recreational programming for children of all abilities.
Charlee had no idea what to expect when Carter was admitted to Bethany Children’s. Watching the other patients heal and grow was inspiring to the hopeful mom. “I was hoping and praying that it would be the same for Carter, and each week he improved and learned something new. And now he’s walking and he’s getting in and out of his own wheelchair and he’s doing all these things that I never thought he’d be able to do. He’s able to do that because of Bethany Children’s.”
On August 15, 2022, Carter was discharged from Bethany Children’s to return home with his family.
“I have high hopes for him and everything that he’s going to do. I think he’s going to take off,” says Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Jessica Harris, with a smile. “To see a patient like Carter, who has just defeated all odds his entire life, go home… it’s amazing to be able to witness that miracle. I just feel blessed to be a part of it.”
As Carter and his family walked past cheering staff at Bethany Children’s, Charlee stopped to share her gratitude for the care they received during his stay. “I just want to say thank you to each and every person who has had a hand in Carter’s journey,” Charlee said with emotion. “God bless you all and thank you for being a part of Carter’s life.”
Learn more about Bethany Children’s Health Center at bethanychildrens.org.