Eagle River boy benefits from Children’s Miracle Network and featured in May 30 broadcast

WOODRUFF, WI—The annual Children’s Miracle Network television broadcast will take place on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 10:30 p.m., at the Mother Frances Streitel Conference Center at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, and also televised on WAOW TV-9. The 19-hour broadcast will celebrate the life of children that have been touched through the gifts given to Children’s Miracle Network, as well as recognize those who gave so generously during the 2008 campaign.

Nicholas Plank of Eagle River has benefited from the Children’s Miracle Network, and his story will be shared during the broadcast.

Nicholas first started feeling tired on Sunday, April 20, 2008. His mom, Laura, picked him up from his part-time job. His exhaustion was more than usual fatigue. The following morning, Nicholas was still tired and now he was coughing and had pain in his left shoulder.

After a trip to the local clinic, the family was advised to take him to Eagle River Memorial Hospital where he was tested for blastomycosis. The tests came back negative. He was placed on antibiotics to treat what they assumed was regular pneumonia, but his progress was slow. The doctors retested for blastomycosis and a week after feeling the initial effects, he was officially diagnosed with the infection.

Blastomycosis is a type of fungal pneumonia contracted by breathing in spores that grow in moist soil. These harmful spores become airborne when the soil is disturbed. Though the disease is relatively rare throughout the United States, it does pose as a risk in Vilas and Oneida counties. In fact, a friend and classmate of Nicholas’ passed away from the infection in January of 2008.

Because Nicholas was generally feeling better, he was discharged from the hospital after his first treatment and scheduled to return to the hospital twice a day for IV treatments. Unfortunately, even with his IV treatments, his health worsened. His doctor strongly advised he go to Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital (SJCH) in Marshfield.

At SJCH Nicholas’ parents were cautioned that his condition would likely worsen before it would get better. They were right. His high fevers persisted along with exhaustion. After several treatments, his chest x-ray looked even worse and he was requiring more oxygen. Nicholas was transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where doctors reassured his parents that this was the common response to the infection. They were reminded that patience and perseverance were needed to endure the peaks and valleys of his condition, as well as what might seem like a painfully slow progression of his returned health.

Nicholas’ week-long stay in PICU was a roller coaster both physically and emotionally. However, his determination was consistently strong and he very rarely became discouraged. Finally, on May 6, Nicholas was transferred out of PICU and into a room on the pediatric floor. The next day he showed noticeable improvement. Nicholas was no longer in pain, was off the oxygen and his energy level improved. Nicholas and his father, Gerry, even serenaded his mother with their saxophones on the pediatric deck for Mother’s Day.

After two weeks in the hospital, Nicholas was finally able to go home with his parents and brother, Matthew. Gradually, he went back to Northland Pines High School and finished the year with straight A’s. Nicholas continued with respiratory therapy over that summer and medication through September. Other than a lingering cold, Nicholas has fully recovered. Along with gaining his health back he also gained the invaluable insight of how precious life is and how to never take it for granted.

Nicholas’ and others stories will be televised throughout the Children’s Miracle Network television broadcast. The broadcast concludes at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 31.

For more information on the Children’s Miracle Network, call Patti Shafto-Carlson at Saint Joseph's Children's Hospital, at 715-387-9965 or 800-428-5000.

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