It’s a scare no parent wants to face – even parents who are trained medical professionals. One day last month, Kylee Davis, 8, of Independence noticed a small amount of blood in her stool.
Parents Kyle and Valerie Davis – Kyle a Mercy ER nurse and Valerie a nurse in the Mercy Cancer Center – were a bit concerned and took Kylee to see a primary care provider. Results from a blood test were normal, so Kylee returned to school.
That night, while attending her older sister’s holiday music program at school, Kylee complained of a belly ache and went to the restroom. Mom Valerie accompanied her, and this time there was a large amount of blood in Kylee’s stool. The family immediately headed to the Mercy emergency room.
“As an oncology nurse, some of the worst things were running through my mind, but I tried to remain calm,” Valerie said.
Kylee’s blood was redrawn in the ER. The morning’s blood test had shown a normal hemoglobin count of 12. By 7 p.m., the count was 9.4 and after about an hour in the ER, it had dropped to 8.
“This was the point where they decided to go ahead and transfuse blood products, since we were not sure what was causing the bleeding,” she recalled. “We started with a unit of fresh frozen plasma. Then they transfused one unit of blood.”
In the meantime, the ER staff was making arrangements to have Kylee transferred to a children’s hospital, where pediatric specialists could diagnose and treat the problem. Mercy’s new Lifeline helicopter service was called, and Valerie joined Kylee on the trip to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.
“I was able to ride along with Kylee, and, as a mother, there is just no way to express my gratitude for that,” she said, noting that the flight crew not only attended to Kylee, but worked to keep Valerie occupied during the trip “to keep me from completely having a nervous breakdown.”
At Children’s Mercy, Kylee and Valerie were greeted by several nurses and a physician. Kylee’s blood was cross-matched in anticipation of more transfusions, and Kylee indeed continued to experience bleeding through the night and most of the next, tense day.
“Kylee kept asking to have a chaplain come pray for her,” Valerie said. “Our church pastor in Independence had come to pray for her right before the helicopter took us, and she really liked that. When the chaplain (at Children’s Mercy) came, he simply asked Kylee what she would like him to pray with her about. She said, ‘Please pray that the bleeding stops.’”
“The next time we went to the bathroom, I did not see blood. Then again, no blood until the morning.”
The next day was the day for answers. Throughout the stay, the doctors had been debating possible causes for the bleeding, with some scenarios scarier than others. Since the bleeding had been rather extreme, the gastroenterologists called in the surgeons to discuss the situation, and a colonoscopy was scheduled as the first step toward diagnosis.
“I had been keeping everyone back home updated on Facebook as best I could,” Valerie said. “By the time we were ready for surgery, we literally had thousands of people praying from all across the U.S. and even in other countries.
“As we got to the pre-op room, Kylee again asked for a chaplain. She was very nervous. It was quite a while and the chaplain hadn’t shown up yet, and since the surgeons and nurses were waiting, I asked if I could just pray for her. She said, ‘NO. I want a chaplain!’ Shortly after, the chaplain arrived and prayed with her.
“You could see the child-like faith that Kylee had. It was like, ‘OK, God, I asked you to keep me safe, so now I know you will.’
“I wish I could say I was able to keep the same faith the entire time.”
It would take only about 45 minutes until Valerie learned that Kylee’s faith and the many prayers had paid off. A nurse came out of the surgery suite to inform Valerie the surgeons had found a very large polyp in Kylee’s bowel that was the obvious cause of the bleeding. Polyps, as Valerie learned, are somewhat common in kids, they just don’t normally grow as large and become irritated like this one did.
The benign juvenile polyp was removed, and Valerie was informed there would be no need for additional procedures. A day later, Kylee was released from the hospital to go home and live her normal 8-year-old life…
Well, almost normal – her ordeal earned her a little local notoriety, beyond Facebook, and Kylee was selected as a “poster child” for the upcoming American Red Cross community blood drive. Area residents are encouraged to give blood in honor of Kylee and others like her in times of need, and Valerie says it’s a cause the family is honored to support as a way to "pay it forward."
As an oncology nurse, Valerie noted, she transfuses blood products routinely, but it didn’t strike her just how critical donations are until it was her own child who needed it. “I give blood, but not as regularly as I should. Many times I’ve missed opportunities because I just didn’t have the time. As I sat watching and waiting during Kylee’s transfusions, I thought, ‘How can you not have time to save a life? What if donors hadn’t had the time to donate the blood products that Kylee was receiving?’”
Valerie and Kyle give thanks to the many people who contributed to Kylee’s positive outcome – from the medical professionals to the friends and loved ones sending up prayers to the unknown blood product donors – and credit Kylee’s faith for teaching them a lesson about healing they could never learn in their nursing jobs.
“I have since reflected on the event trying to see what, as a nurse, mother and person I can learn from this,” Valerie said, “and I have found it is simply to have the faith of a child.”