Nine-year-old Libby Kate Wood wants to be a pediatric physician when she grows up. Her inspiration springs from her patient experience at Children’s of Alabama, where she was treated for a ruptured appendix. Possibly life-threatening, a rupture spreads infection throughout the abdomen and requires surgery.
When Libby Kate was 5, she fell ill with a stomachache and a mild fever. Her mother, Christi, took her to the pediatrician in their hometown of Dothan, Alabama, where she was diagnosed with a stomach bug. It’s common for a rupture to mimic the symptoms of a stomachache. The pain tends to worsen and moves to the lower right side of the belly, but at the time, Libby Kate was too young to explain her pain in detail.
In the days ahead, Libby Kate continued to complain of stomach pain. A second trip to the doctor revealed an elevated white blood cell count indicating infection and Libby Kate was prescribed antibiotics to treat it.
“At this point, we became worried,” recalls Christi. “She wasn’t getting any better and her urine became cloudy. I carried my little girl back to the doctor again screaming in pain.” The doctor then ordered a CT Scan and diagnosed Libby Kate with a cyst in her pelvic area. She was rushed by ambulance to Children’s in Birmingham.
When Libby Kate arrived, the doctors examined her, ordered additional tests and officially diagnosed her with a ruptured appendix. “We were relieved to know it wasn’t a cyst, but more concerned to know that she had a mass of infection draining from her ruptured appendix that was as large as a grapefruit in her tiny little body,” Christi said.
Doctors could not remove Libby Kate’s appendix until the infection was cleared. A tube was surgically inserted to continuously drain the infection from the area around the appendix. A peripherally inserted central catheter or PICC line was also inserted in Libby Kate’s arm to administer antibiotics quickly and effectively. Libby Kate was discharged home after two weeks and returned to Children’s as needed until she was healthy enough to have her appendix removed.
“Any time we were at Children’s, the medical team made us feel like we were an intricate part of the care team for our daughter,” Christi said. “They kept us informed every step of the way, and that helped put our mind at ease.”
Today, Libby Kate is healthy and strong. She is a straight-A student at the Carver School for Math, Science, and Technology, and her favorite subject is anatomy. She also enjoys participating in pageants. She won the title of Young Junior Miss Houston County, Little Miss Cancer Freeze and Petite Miss Tomato. In her spare time, Libby Kate enjoys the outdoors and hanging out with her friends, but most of all, being a big sister to her younger brothers Lane and Levi.
“We are so thankful for Children’s saving our little girl,” Christi said. “She has been forever influenced and inspired by each and every doctor that cared for her during that scary time. After our experience there, we have decided that we will always take our kids to Children’s."