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After spending his first Christmas at IU Health Riley Hospital for Children, Wyatt Campbell is giving back to other patients – all in the name of survival.
By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, firstname.lastname@example.org
He’s wearing a “Superman” t-shirt and talking non-stop. He is big fan of the Toy Story 4 character “Forky,” and he loves McDonald’s cheeseburgers with mustard only, and bologna sandwiches.
“He’s been on a Toy Story kick since he was two,” said his mom Amber Smalley. And that’s just fine with her. She’s happy to have her son alive. Wyatt Campbell is a child abuse survivor.
“On Dec. 17, 2013 Wyatt was shaken by someone who was supposed to love and nurture him. He was transported by LifeLine to IU Health Riley Hospital for Children where he coded multiple times,” said his mother. He suffered bilateral subdural hematomas, retinal hemorrhaging in his eyes and seizures. “We were told Wyatt would most likely not make it through the night. When he beat those odds we were told he would most likely be blind and deaf with very little quality of life,” said Amber Smalley. Her mom Carmen Thomas, who works at IU Health Ball Hospital and Thomas’ partner Cliff McKee, supported her through the horrific tragedy.
Wyatt has a twin sister Annabelle and that first Christmas, the four-month-olds spent Christmas at Riley Hospital with their mom.
“The generous donations from other families made a very dark time seem somewhat normal,” said Smalley, who is married to Adam Smalley and has two more children Charlotte, 3 and Audra, 1.
Every year since Wyatt’s recovery, the family has collected toys in celebration of “Wyatt’s Survival Day.” This year they plan to deliver about $1,000 worth of toys to patients at Riley Hospital.
“At first I hated that day and then I decided that we are blessed that he is alive and is thriving so we decided to celebrate,” said Smalley. Wyatt continues with speech and occupational therapy but is an energetic Kindergartener who has become a symbol of strength for his family.
“Wyatt is one of ten grandchildren and he was my first. He was born four minutes before his twin sister Annabelle. I don’t know what we’d do without him,” said Thomas, who collected toys at IU Health Ball Hospital. “He’s such a joy and we feel blessed to celebrate his survival.”