A miracle in the form of a donated machine to Lubbock’s University Medical Center (UMC) from the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) helped save the life of Coahoma High School student Austyn Montgomery this past summer.
Now the 16-year-old is giving back by serving as the 2019 Miracle Kid for the CMN and KLLL 96.3 annual Miracle Pennies Campaign radiothon. Coahoma ISD is joining the fundraiser this year.
“I am a 16-year-old. I am an artist and a runner and I love to dance, but the thing I am most proud of is I am a part of Children’s Miracle Network,” Montgomery said as she told her story to a group of 130 students and adults attending a CMN Miracle Pennies Campaign kickoff held in Lubbock a few weeks ago. “June 24, 2018, I was in a car accident where I lost my mom and my boyfriend. I had many injuries including a broken femur, broken ribs, and a severely bruised lung.”
Following the accident, Montgomery was flown to UMC’s intensive pediatric care unit.
“My lungs were not doing well that first week,” she said. “They kept collapsing, so I was sent to the cardiac floor to have this machine call ECMO to help oxygenate my blood.”
An ECMO or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a machine that pumps and oxygenates blood throughout the body to allow the heart and lungs time to rest and heal.
“Two barn hose size tubes were inserted into my groans,” Montgomery said. “One tube took the blood out of my body and sent it to a machine to put oxygen into my blood while the other tube pushed the blood back into my body. CMN with all their donations had bought this machine to help save lives.”
“It’s very common to use this machine for infants and elders, not for teenagers,” Montgomery continued. “I was the first teenager at UMC to ever have ECMO.”
At the time, Montgomery said her chances at survival were at 50 percent.
“The machine ended up saving my life, but it didn’t fix all of my problems,” she said. “I ended up having four chest tubes, a trach, and surgery to clean out my lungs.”
More than just healing her physical injuries, Montgomery said the staff helped her “feel normal again,” during her 42-day hospital stay.
“My favorite thing beside the staff was the teen room which CMN put together,” she said. “The day I went, I watched Mary Poppins, and I felt so comfortable that I fell asleep. When it was time to leave, they woke me up, and I was sad to leave.”
Unfortunately, Montgomery caught an infection and the staff felt she should not return to the teen room for the rest of her stay at the hospital.
“So I couldn’t go to the teen room, they brought the teen room back to me,” she said. “They brought movies and an Xbox and paint and all amazing stuff to make me feel normal again. If it wasn’t for the donations that CMN had made, I wouldn’t be alive right now. Not only does CMN buy gadgets to help kids feel normal, but they also buy gadgets to save lives. I am here to encourage you to save a life and donate.”
Coahoma ISD will host a kickoff for the Miracle Pennies Campaign Friday during an afternoon school assembly in the high school auditorium. For the next two weeks, Coahoma schools will hold a variety of fundraisers from Hat Day and Pajama Day to no-shave pass and classroom penny wars. The community can also participate by bringing donations to the school office.
Money raised for the campaign stays local, according the CMN website. Donations support the need of 170-member children's hospitals including treatment, health care service, and medical equipment. The radiothon is set for Feb. 28 at UMC.
(Information and photos provided by Coahoma Media.)