Kennedy Vickery is a 4-year-old “girly-girl” who loves dolls, plays t-ball and flies through the air in gymnastics, and she does it all with her fierce “super foot.”
And, top it all off, her baby brother thinks she’s the coolest big sister ever.
In 2017, Kennedy suffered a degloving injury to her right foot in a lawn mower accident. Degloving occurs when the skin, fascia and perhaps muscle and bone are torn from the body. After an emergency trip to Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital (ECM) in the Vickerys’ hometown of Florence, Children’s of Alabama’s Critical Care Transport team was called in to fly Kennedy via plane to Birmingham.
“ECM’s team sedated her, provided pain control and put her on a ventilator while they contacted Children’s,” said Kennedy’s mother, Keri, who is a nurse. “Children’s Critical Care Transport team flew her to Birmingham while we drove nearly two-and-a-half hours to the hospital.
“Their team kept constant contact with us – calling me multiple times until they landed and even when they went to the ER. When we got there, she was still in surgery, and a chaplain and a social worker met us there even though it was around midnight,” Keri said.
Within a two-week period, Kennedy had six surgeries. Doctors eventually amputated her foot because there was too much damage. Although the ordeal was disheartening, Keri still finds comfort in how Kennedy refers to Children’s – “the coolest hospital ever.”
“She got to go down to the play rooms, the nurses played with her and the child life specialists would come in and let her play with their tablets,” Keri said.
“The staff at Children’s was one of the most impressive groups of medical professionals I have ever dealt with,” Keri said. “They explained everything well. They worked together. That whole hospital ran like a well-oiled machine. We also had some unbelievable nurses that not only took care of her, but took care of us!”
A few months following her hospital release, Kennedy received her new prosthetic foot and went through physical therapy. She also received a special gift that has been a trusty sidekick through her experience.
“When all of this happened, we got her an American Girl doll. The prosthetic company that made Kennedy’s prosthesis amputated the doll’s foot and made the same prosthetic pattern for it that Kennedy has,” Keri said. “She named her KC after herself [Kennedy Claire] and takes her everywhere we go.”
Kennedy and her family have adopted a positive attitude about her new foot. They often refer to it as the “lucky leg” after Disney’s Nemo from the movie “Finding Nemo,” who had a “lucky fin.” They also refer to her prosthesis as the “super foot.”
“Kids will sometimes ask her what happened to her foot, or they think it’s a frozen foot because it doesn’t have a bendable ankle. They like the ‘super foot’ idea!” Keri said.
“Kennedy is pretty impressive. It hasn’t slowed her down in any way!”