When Lanitra Johnson looks at her young son King Davis, she doesn’t see a sick child. She sees a happy baby who doesn’t let his illness hold him back.
King was born nine weeks early on May 11, 2012 and weighed less than 4 pounds. He was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit until he was strong enough to go home, but a week later he was getting sicker and sicker and was sent to Children’s of Alabama. Doctors at Children’s discovered he had necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, a condition primarily seen in premature infants. NEC is a condition in which the intestines become infected and inflamed.
At 1 week old, King underwent two surgeries, performed back-to-back, to remove portions of his intestines that had died due to the NEC. He was given antibiotics and pain medication to aid in his recovery, but two months later he developed an infection and required more treatment. It was a difficult few months, during which Lanitra couldn’t even hold her son, but the Children’s team was there for King and his family and his health gradually began to improve. Then, on Sept. 21, 2012, at 4 months old, King was finally able to go home.
King’s recovery has been anything but smooth, and he has required additional medical intervention at times. His specialized diet caused some liver damage, and his IV nutrition has had to be changed. He was gradually weaned off his feeding tube, but still has a central line for medications. His mother makes sure to keep King’s regular appointments with the gastroenterologist at Children’s so that his progress stays on track.
Through it all, King has been strong, always smiling and laughing, seemingly unaware of his condition. He is gaining weight and improving every day.
Caring for King requires a lot of time and patience. Lanitra’s 10-year-old daughter, Aviah Johnson, has taken pride in assisting her mother. “She helps get everything ready for me and she watches him, she’s very helpful” Lanitra said. “It has been very challenging. I am very overwhelmed at times. I mean, who would have thought this would happen to me? But I am more comfortable with it now, and as of right now, King is doing great.”