The Renown Health Foundation has chosen 10 year-old Nicky Stevens as the 2007-2008 Miracle Network Champion Child. Stevens was chosen because of the tenacity and perseverance he showed during the 20 surgeries and more than 30 hospital admissions he required over a five year period.
As a Champion Child, Stevens will represent Nevada in Washington D.C. and Florida during the Champions Across America event from March 12 – 19, 2008. He will attend White House and Capital Hill receptions, and participate in a national television production at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Because of his early struggles, Stevens is about the size of a seven-year-old so his favorite t-shirt, which reads, “Small But Mighty,” sums him up perfectly.
“Nicky has been knocked down so many times, but always rises up stronger than ever,” said mom, Lisa Stevens.
In 1997, Stevens was born 10-weeks premature with esophageal atresia and tracheo-esophageal fistula (EA/TF), and spent his first nine weeks of life in intensive care at Renown Regional Medical Center, the only CMN hospital in Northern Nevada.
The condition affects one in 4,000 people, and results from the upper segment of the esophagus (food pipe) ending without connecting to the stomach, and the lower part of the esophagus being attached to the trachea (air pipe). This leaves no way for food from the mouth to reach the stomach and allows air into the stomach and liquids into lungs.
Stevens would vomit anytime he was laid down into a horizontal position. This meant changing diapers, sleeping, and other activities had to be done while holding Stevens upright. A surgery at 11 months corrected this problem, and finally made it possible for Stevens to be in a horizontal position.
At 24-months Stevens was also diagnosed with cyclical vomiting syndrome (CVS), which finally offered explanation for his four-week cycles of drooling, gagging and vomiting. This condition is completely separate from the EA/TF, and is characterized by recurrent, pro-longed attacks of severe nausea, vomiting, and exhaustion with no apparent cause.
Stevens’ parents credit his pediatrician, Jane Diedrichsen, M.D., now retired pediatric surgeon, Bill Morgan, M.D., and all of the pediatric nurses and staff who were invaluable to the compassionate care Stevens received at Renown Regional.
Stevens now leads a happy, healthy life along with his older brother Ben. His hobbies and interests would overwhelm most normal boys his age. He is described as outgoing, social, energetic, friendly and extremely compassionate to everyone he encounters. Stevens, who taught himself to read before kindergarten, consistently earns straight A’s in school. He loves playing the piano and guitar, enjoys skiing, playing golf and practicing origami. In 2008, Stevens will test for his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Stevens’ plans for his future change constantly. Some days he wants to own a martial arts studio, and others he wants to be a pediatrician or police officer.