Bryan Pridemore first learned about Children’s Miracle Network 10 years ago as an assistant manager at Walmart in Zephyrhills, Fla. He quickly embraced the store’s charity of choice, helping to raise funds through selling hot dogs and participating in fashion shows. But what he didn’t realize is the impact Children’s Miracle Network would one day have on his own life.
Bryan and his wife, Candi, had their third child, Sage, on Jan. 26, 2007 at Lakeland Regional Hospital. He was born a healthy baby at 6 pounds, 9 ounces, and Candi and Bryan were excited to take him home. But not long after Bryan left the hospital to pick up his two oldest children, he received a frantic phone call from his wife.
“I couldn’t understand her at first. She said that Sage’s breathing was erratic. They couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, but he was being put in the ICU unit so the doctors could begin running a slew of tests on him,” said Bryan. “At that point we went from everything is fine and we’re ready to go home to the world is on our shoulders.”
Hours later the Pridemores received a phone call. The doctors thought Sage had something called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning that the left chamber of his heart – the side that pumps blood throughout the body – never formed. He was helicoptered to Shands Hospital for Children at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.
When the Pridemores arrived in Gainesville, the cardiology team quickly confirmed Sage had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He had two options – a heart transplant or a series of three surgical procedures that would reroute the right side of his heart and give it the same capabilities as the left. The doctors recommended surgery.
On Feb. 1, 2007, Sage had his first, successful open heart surgery. But after only one week back at home, Sage started coughing and wheezing. He was rushed to the emergency room at Lakeland Regional Hospital, then immediately flown to Shands Hospital for Children. He had an infection in his blood.
“That’s when we knew we had to move to Gainesville,” said Candi.
Sage was released after just one week in the hospital, but the Pridemores had several weekly doctor appointments as well as two additional surgeries, and they were spending their time and resources commuting.
Bryan began applying for open positions at Walmart, and was promoted to shift manager at the store in Starke, just 45 minutes from Shands Hospital for Children.
Since then, Sage has undergone two additional open heart surgeries and is a bright, energetic 6-year-old. He loves to laugh and play, and recite his A, B, Cs.