By Denise Koch


BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Reese Burdette broke the record. She was in the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for 664 days — longer than any other patient in hospital history.

WJZ introduced you to Reese when she was finally going home. Now, three months later, Denise Koch shows us how she’s doing on her family’s dairy farm just over the Maryland line in Pennsylvania.

Windy Knoll Farm is where nine-year-old Reese belongs. But a fire Memorial Day 2014 sent her to Hopkins with badly damaged lungs, heart, perilously close to death.

Doctors invented techniques to keep her alive. Countless surgeries, grueling therapy, the loss of a limb, she beat every odd in medical history by surviving. Now she’s thriving and driving — yes, driving — on the family farm. First stop, the calf Reese is determined to show later this summer.

The dream of returning to her animals was central to Reese’s recovery. At one low point, her dad actually brought her favorite cow, Pantene, to Hopkins to visit her. Now she’s back feeding Pantene and sharing in her care.

“It’s really unbelievable what she’s been able to accomplish in three months. And just like in the hospital, a lot of it’s been her. She’s an unbelievable fighter. Her parents and her sister are amazing,” said Dr. Kristen Nelson, Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiac Care Director.

Dr. Nelson visits often, sharing Reese’s progress with everyone at Hopkins, who grew to love her. They sent a gift, an American Girl doll, who shares Reese’s prosthetic leg.

Denise: “You seem so happy. Are you so happy to be home?”

Reese: “Yes, very. I love everything. I missed it a lot.”

That Reese is doing so well can truly be seen as a miracle. Was it Hopkins’ care? Is it Reese herself? This beautiful setting? Or a family that never stopped fighting?

“In our line of work, you have to be optimistic to start with. I think that’s helped us with Reese, too, because in the middle of summer, you hope it’s going to rain and in the middle of her hospital stay we hoped that Reese was coming home and everything always seems to work out the right way and we just keep that positive outlook,”

Reese’s case has already saved at least one life. Her doctors at Hopkins presented her case at a conference and a doctor from Utah called because he had a young patient in a similar condition. That doctor followed the Hopkins protocol and saved that young boy’s life.

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