Altona Sierra Reynolds just wants to be like every other kid in her grade...she wants to be healthy.
Sierra is 12, and for 10 long years of her short life, being healthy has just been a dream. When Sierra was just 2 she contracted Ecoli 157. Her parents don’t know where she was exposed to the most virulent form of the deadly bacteria, but she nearly died on the way to the hospital.
In fact, Sierra coded in the ambulance on the way to Fletcher Allen Health Center in Burlington. During emergency exploratory surgery that night, three quarters of her intestines were removed. She fought for her life for four months before finally pulling through enough to leave the hospital, but life on the other side has been almost as difficult.
The Ecoli that nearly killed Sierra left her with Cerebral Palsy and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. She has undergone numerous reconstructive surgeries on her feet just so she can walk. She has had her left ovary removed, and has had several more intestinal surgeries. On a good week, she travels to Fletcher Allen at least once for doctors’ appointments, but typically she travels to see doctors two or three times a week or more.
Through it all, she just tries to be a normal kid.
“Sierra lives her life every day knowing she’s very sick, but instead of focusing on that, her drive in life is to be like her friends and know that there’s a future for her to conquer,” said her mother, Kathy Reynolds.
Kathy is forced to take time off from her work, and Sierra from school, for the usually day long trips to Burlington. She is fortunate that her employer lets her make up the lost time, but the strain is apparent, even through her smile.
What causes Kathy the most angst currently are Sierra’s kidneys. They are shutting down. She is down to 10 - 15 percent of their capacity.