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When their 5-month-old son, Stephen, was diagnosed with infantile seizures and placed on medication, Bradly Hardee and Sandy Hardee of Supply were hoping things would soon return to normal.
But the terrifying ordeal that followed is one Bradly, a Brunswick County Sheriff’s deputy, and Sandy, a registered nurse with Liberty Healthcare, never expected.
The positive outcome that resulted is one they credit to the power of prayer and the community coming together.
A month after beginning steroid medications for seizures, Stephen developed pulmonary edema and pneumonia and had to be taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, where he received blood transfusions and was placed on a ventilator.
A nurse for 15 years, Sandy said she’s come up with her own theories about how the lung problems developed.
“The nurses in the ICU and I, we all agree it was the steroids that were used to treat the seizures,” she said. “That caused him to retain so much fluid in his body that it eventually went to the lungs.”
What happened during the hospital stay is something the Hardees give thanks for every day since the family came back home.
Some of Bradly’s colleagues at the sheriff’s office contacted officials with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the Fayetteville Police Department about helping the family.
“Law enforcement is a tight-knit family,” Sandy said. “We were taking time off work, and he’s getting paid, but I’m not, so they were trying to reach out.”
One of the majors from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office organized a blood drive at Cape Fear Valley, and because the hospital has its own blood donor center, if anyone gives blood in a patient’s name, every pint of that blood will count as credit on the patient’s hospital bill.
“The sheriff’s department has been so wonderful,” Sandy said. “We had visits from deputies and lieutenants.”
The community in Fayetteville and Brunswick County rallied for the family as well.
In addition to expected visits from the pastor and associate pastor at their church, Mount Pisgah Baptist, pastors from Fayetteville churches came to the hospital and prayed with them, and she’s not sure a church in Brunswick County didn’t have Stephen’s name on their prayer list.
“I don’t know how to thank all the people who remembered us,” she said, choking back tears. “The lady who trimmed my hair the other day told me my son was on her prayer list. I had never met this lady before.”
It was a moving experience, but one she wouldn’t want to go through again.
Today, 7-month-old Stephen is “like a whole new baby,” Sandy said.
“He laughs and smiles and talks all the time.”
Sandy stays home with him on the days her husband works. She works on the days Bradly stays home.
“We’re not quite ready to put him with a bunch of children yet,” she said.
sarah shew wilson is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email@example.com.