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Ambassador Highlight: Meet Harper

Published: March 27th, 2017

Category: CMN Ambassador Stories, For the Kids, Patient Stories

A little over three years ago, Harper Jean “Bean” Youmans made her entrance to the world. Born a petite 18-inches-long and weighing 5 pounds, 10 ounces, Harper’s size did not match her big laughs and smiles.

As she grew older, her mother, Leslie, noticed some alarming things. At 6-months-old, Harper’s eyes stared crossing. She lost the ability to sit up well on her own. She had many bouts of acid reflux, ear infections and pneumonia. She stopped bouncing on her mother’s lap with her legs, and she became irritable and fussy. By 12 months, she was not crawling or walking, and she didn’t sleep well. Harper began physical and occupational therapy at this time.

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“Harper’s younger brother, Emmett, was born when she was 15-months-old,” Leslie said. “She was intrigued by him and would say, ‘Emmmettt.’ It was precious! She even tried to copy me when I told her I loved her,” she said.

A few months later, Harper became miserable and inconsolable, crying for hours and days at a time. She stopped talking and became withdrawn.

“Not being able to console your child for days and days is absolutely the worst feeling ever,” Leslie said. “It took a toll on all of us.”

Harper is now under the care of UF Health Ear, Nose and Throat specialists. Her sleeping patterns have improved, but she has more obstacles to clear. Her doctors have diagnosed her with central sleep apnea, a disorder where the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing, as well as obstructive sleep apnea, caused by a narrow airway. Specialists plan to remove her tonsils and adenoids to help her sleep.

Harper’s family is excited to be part of the UF Health family and grateful for the medical team’s care and compassion. Through continued testing and monitoring, Harper and her family are on their way to fully understand and treat Harper’s conditions.

“Harper has the sweetest smile and the most adorable, ‘evil-ish’ laugh. She’s feisty and sassy. She is a fighter. She is tiny, but fierce,” Leslie said.

“I am a fighter, too. I am exhausted but will forge on and make the best life possible for her.”