After 76 days hospitalized, Sayville’s own warrior girl, 6-year-old Laney McGowan, came home from a rehabilitation center in Valhalla, Westchester, to a hero’s welcome with over 100 well-wishers (many donning “Laney’s Army” T-shirts) at the McGowan household on Thursday, March 9.
A number of local first responders took part in a procession to escort Laney’s family home, including Sayville Fire Department, Sayville EMS, Community Ambulance, and the Suffolk County Police Department.
Mike Duffy, President of the Community Ambulance Company in Sayville said, “It was important to all of us at Community Ambulance to participate in Laney’s convoy home because Laney has become part of the Community Ambulance family. Her toughness and resiliency in the face of so much adversity have been an inspiration to myself, as well as all of our members. We love Laney and we were honored to be there to help escort her home.”
Parents Jason and Tiffany, both schoolteachers, with Tiffany at Sayville High School, were overwhelmed at the sight of the community members cheering Laney on as she made her way around the crowd.
Laney’s story begins with her seizures from Dravet syndrome, which started in her infancy.
Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy characterized by frequent, prolonged seizures often triggered by high body temperature (hyperthermia), developmental delay, speech impairment, ataxia, hypotonia, sleep disturbances, and other health problems.
Laney first fell ill the day before Christmas Eve of last year. Tiffany grew concerned when Laney’s pulse oxygen kept hovering around 92 instead of the normal 100.
On Dec. 20, Laney had tested positive for both the flu and COVID-19 (the latter of which she has had numerous times, but never presented these dire conditions).
After a nebulizer treatment did not improve conditions, Tiffany called 9-11, and Laney was intubated at Stony Brook University Hospital.
“Because of her Dravet syndrome, we have to call 9-11 every time she has a seizure, and this has helped us get to know local police, firefighters, and members of Community Ambulance, who have really become family to us and treat Laney with the utmost care and love,” said Tiffany.
At around 5 a.m. on Christmas Eve day, Laney’s chest X-ray results caused her to be admitted to the hospital. During the stay, Laney coded several times and the medical staff said she needed to be on an ECMO machine.”
ECMO, an acronym for “extracorporeal membrane oxygenation” is used when life support is needed after surgery. ECMO is typically used in critical care situations, when the heart and lungs have sustained considerable damage and need to heal. It may be used in care for COVID-19, ARDS and other infections.
While Laney was taken off the ECMO machine and slowly given medication to reverse the paralytic drugs that were administered to her, she had to undergo surgery to repair her carotid artery and jugular vein. A blood clot was later found in Laney’s jugular vein. Following an MRI, the McGowan family was told Laney had suffered a massive stroke on the right side of her brain.
Since the discovery of the stroke, Laney and her family have given every effort to recover movement on her left side, with the McGowan’s posting frequent video updates of Laney’s progress in rehabilitation.
The community raised over $70,000 in a GoFundMe for the McGowan family, which will be quite useful, as Tiffany will need to take an unpaid leave from her position as a teacher to continue to care for Laney.
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