Liam Young, an active 2½-year-old, is getting back to his laughing, playful self after facing serious medical issues, including kidney and liver failure, cardiac arrest and the amputation of his fingers and toes.
He has been at University of Iowa Hospital for the past six weeks.
Chris and Angela Young of Louisburg have three children. Their middle child, Liam, got the flu on Oct. 22. Chris young said he seemed to recover fine the next two days, but Liam was really weak, so they took him to the emergency room. From there he was flown to University of Iowa Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Iowa City.
“His kidneys and liver had shut down,” Chris Young said.
Shortly after arriving at PICU, Liam had cardiac arrest and was successfully resuscitated. He was then put into a medication-induced coma and put on a ventilator. He received a blood transfusion and was started on dialysis. On Oct. 26, his medical team started him on broad-spectrum antibiotics to try to fight any infection that was attacking his body. They also started doing plasmapheresis, a procedure where whole blood is removed and separated into plasma and blood cells so the plasma can be removed and replaced with another solution before it is returned to the patient.
On Nov. 8, doctors removed “critical” from his status, and by Nov. 13 he was taken off dialysis.
“He was hooked up to continuous dialysis for two weeks,” Chris Young said. “Now he’s well enough that he hasn’t needed any dialysis for three weeks.”
Liam had the ventilator removed on Nov. 1 and was moved to a larger bed where his parents could snuggle with him.
Liam had several complications that had to be addressed. He had swelling from the build-up of fluids when his kidneys weren’t working properly and the swelling caused blisters that covered his body. He was given a special ointment to help remove the dead skin to help the sores heal quicker to eliminate infection. Liam had several blood transfusions and plasma exchanges. He also had blood clots in his fingers and toes, causing tissue to discolor and die.
“His body was making sure all of the main organs had blood flow, which took it away from his hands and feet and blood clots formed in his extremities,” Chris Young said.
On Nov. 30, half of each foot was surgically removed because of dead tissue.
“They did take all of his toes and part of each metatarsal bone,” Chris and Angela Young posted on a Facebook page—Updates for Liam Young—created to update family and friends of Liam’s condition. “The surgeon said there was blood, so that means tissue is alive in there. So he is hopeful for the rest of his feet being able to survive. And as long as everything goes well, this could be all he loses, just depends on if he will be able to bear any weight on them.”
Then, on Dec. 4, all of Liam’s fingers were removed for the same reason.
“It’s been rough,” Chris Young said. “Seeing how much he’s fighting makes it easier for me as a parent. He’s being so strong.”
Chris Young said doctors haven’t yet diagnosed exactly what is wrong, but they believe Liam’s immune system was overactive during his illness and completely shut down after the flu. Results from genetics tests have not yet been returned.
On Oct. 30, Chris and Angela posted to the Updates for Liam Young Facebook page, “Last night a few of the nurses and doctors said Liam has been the sickest kid they have seen in about five years.”
“We are shocked by the amount of support we’ve received from people we don’t even know,” Chris Young said.
Even though Chris and Angela Young have never met Chris and Allison Richard, the owners of The Ticket Bar & Grill in Platteville, the Richards have committed 10 percent of Tuesday night sales—also known as Fight Night—throughout November and December to assist Liam’s health, recovery and well-being. They hope to one day meet the little warrior and his family.
“I’m touched by what their family is going through,” Allison Richard said. “As a mom of three small children, my heart breaks for them. In a small town, we all know each other in some way. If every sick kid had a community behind them, families wouldn’t struggle so much.”
Two weeks after Liam was admitted to PICU, Chris Young hit a deer on the way back to the hospital. He appreciated BFM Automotive Specialists of Kieler taking care of all of the decisions to get his vehicle back in shape while he was taking care of his family.
“They got it in right away and got it going without input from me,” Chris Young said. “It’s nice that I didn’t have to think about it at all.”
Angela Young started her job at Rite-Hite in Dubuque just two months before Liam got sick.
“Her employer has been so understanding of all of the time off she’s needed,” Chris Young said. He works for Vendors Unlimited in Dubuque.
Liam has received gift baskets from all over the United States. He’s a big fan of cars, and tuning companies from throughout the country have sent Hot Wheels toys and other car-themed baskets filled with things to take Liam’s mind off his problems. Cummins also donated shirts and stuffed bears.
“We’ve never met any of these people, never talked to them, but our hospital room is filling up,” Chris Young said. “It’s been an amazing showing of support.”
Lisa Kruser of Cuba City submitted Liam’s story to the Hoefer Foundation of Dupaco Community Credit Union, which made a donation for Liam’s current and future needs, including making the Young home handicapped accessible.
ESPN also assisted the Young family with a much-needed family night out by providing tickets to an Iowa Hawkeyes game on Nov. 21. The nurses even pulled some strings so Liam could go. Seats were reserved in a heated press box and Liam was bundled up for the trip to the stadium.
“After being locked in the hospital for 4 weeks, it was nice to be able to take Little Man outside again,” Chris Young said.
The Southwestern School District also made a donation for fuel and other costs while Liam has been staying at the hospital. Liam’s older brother, Noah, is a student there.
“The community in whole has been a huge support for us,” Chris Young said. “Without that it would be tougher to deal with what we’re dealing with.”
Shelli Wilson has held Scentsy fundraisers for Liam and HuHot Helping Hands hosted a benefit in Cedar Rapids to raise money. A GoFundMe site—Support for Liam—was set up to assist the family with expenses associated with this event. So far $5,540 has been raised.
“They don’t have to do this, but we’re so happy that they chose to,” Chris Young said.
Wiederholt Transport and Donovan Trucking, both businesses in Hazel Green, have made donations for fuel for the parents to drive back and forth between the hospital and home. Chris Young said it is approximately 90 miles one way and he has to make the trip at least twice a week because he is in physical therapy for a previous injury.
“We take turns staying with Liam,” Chris Young said. “On days when my wife isn’t able to be down there, I go. My mom will spend the night with him if neither of us can be there.”
Chris’s sister, Kathy Droessler, had support bracelets made as another fundraiser for the family. Adult versions are black with tire tread while children versions are pink and blue, all saying “Pullin’ for Liam.” Bracelets are available for a $5 donation by contacting Droessler at email@example.com.
Chris Young said Droessler and his parents, Maryann and Ron VanNatta, have been an immense help with Liam’s siblings, Noah, 5, and Elizabeth, 1 ½.
“Luckily we have amazing friends and family who have been helping with the other kids through all of this,” Chris Young said. “We haven’t been able to do the family things we used to do together.”
Angela and Chris Young are uncertain how long Liam will be at the hospital.
“He’s been doing awesome,” Chris Young said. “One of the greatest presents in the world would be to spend Christmas at home with the other kids.”
A Happy Boy
Liam gets plenty of attention at the hospital. He has a wagon that looks like a car and gets pushed around in it at the hospital when he needs to get out of his room.
“The staff at PICU is amazing,” Chris Young said. “Robyn is his favorite nurse. She even stops by after her shift to watch TV with him, spending her time off making him smile.”
Liam loves cars, having books read to him, watching the show “Team Hot Wheels” and dancing along to the song “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon. His family has posted videos and pictures of Liam adapting to his new condition, smiling even when he might not feel the best and learning to work through all of his current struggles.
“Liam has been in such a positive mood, even after all he’s been through,” Chris Young said. “Today he was feeling his feet and asked why they had to cut them off. I told him it was to make him feel better and he just said, ‘OK.’ Every morning he wakes up smiling. He gets better and better by the day.”
Donations to assist the Young family can be made online at www.gofundme.com/9n79acg8 or sent to: The Family of Liam Young, Southwestern Elementary School, 1415 Fairplay St., Hazel Green, WI 53811. Call (608) 854-2261 with questions.