BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - When little Hadley Smith started coughing one afternoon, her mom knew by the sound this was more than just a tickle.
"She was clearing her throat, trying to clear her airway, coughing. In the back of my mind, I hope she didn’t aspirate a peanut, meaning I hope it did not go into her airway,” said mom, Jill Smith.
That wasn’t just a mother’s instinct. Smith is also a nurse in the pediatric ICU at Our Lady of the Lake’s Children’s Hospital. “Her symptoms were very minor, very minor. It was something in the back of my head was like something’s not right,” said Smith.
After her pediatrician recommended keeping an eye on Hadley overnight, it was clear something was rattling in her lungs. The next morning, Hadley was sent to the ER to see some of her mom’s colleagues. “There’s like a ticking time bomb,” said pediatric emergency medicine specialist, Dr. Chris Woodward. “They have this object in there, in their bronchus, it’s somewhere in their lungs and at any moment, it can be coughed up and it can obstruct their airway and that becomes a big problem.”
A surgeon was called in and during a quick 15 minute procedure, the missing peanut was fished out and any potential complications were avoided.
For Smith, it was a comfort to know her daughter was in the hands of the staff she knows and trusts, like the surgeon who picked Hadley up and carried her into the operating room when she got scared. “It touched your heart to see that this surgeon looked at her as a child and not just a patient and knew she was scared,” said Smith.
For the staff, it’s a point of pride that the Children’s Hospital is equipped to handle any case, from choking on a peanut to the more serious stuff. That’s why they’re thrilled to see the new freestanding hospital come to life. “I think the community needs that kind of care so we treat our children just as well as we treat adults here,” said Woodward.
The family shared their story as a part the Children’s Hospital annual Mediathon, a two-day fundraising event supporting the hospital.
Click here for more information on Mediathon.
Unfortunately, the Mediathon does follow news that the former head of the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation, the fundraising side of the hospital, was terminated and accused of embezzling foundation funds. The hospital says it wants to reassure donors safeguards are now in place to make sure any money donated goes to the right place and they are hopeful they will recover the money allegedly embezzled.