North Mississippi boy successfully battles rare disease after care at Le Bonheur

Sutherland Smith

OXFORD, Miss–At the Smith home in Oxford, this is what the family calls managed chaos.

12-year-old Sutherland Smith is all boy. You might find him on the move on his bike, bouncing on his trampoline in his room, and sometimes even hanging out with his younger sisters.

His parents, Betsy and Andrew Smith, call it just a typical day in the life of Sutherland.

“You almost survive the day and manage chaos and the days go by so fast in the blink of the eye,” Betsy Smith said.

In the blink of an eye, the Smith’s know how life can quickly change. They remember when Sutherland suddenly came down with a fever at school.

” The school called and they said he has a 105 degree fever and I said alright. So I turn around and the babysitter meets me at the paediatrician office,” Betsy Smith said.

“Sutherland`s one symptom would come and go away.  Another one would come and go away. Younger kids have it. Thank God the paediatrician caught it,” Andrew Smith said.

The tests determined that Sutherland had a rare disease.

“I had Kawasaki disease and they say it’s an autoimmune disease,” Sutherland said.

Kawasaki disease also affects your coronary arteries and it can be life-threatening.

“If it gets your heart and it damages your blood vessels, I mean it could shorten your life. So I was very concerned,” Betsy Smith said.

Sutherland’s doctors recommended he be sent to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

They knew he would need the best medical care because he was not doing well.

“He had a 104, 105-degree fever for weeks and he looks terrible.  We`re staring at each other….like what now? ” Andrew Smith said.

He was in a lot of pain and would need several ‘IVIG’ treatments to help his immune system.

” He couldn`t lift his head. He couldn`t walk. All bodily functions were excruciating and painful,” Andrew Smith said.

But at first, the treatments didn’t help.

“He got the first dosage and still fever. The fever wouldn`t go away,” Andrew Smith said.

The Smith’s relied heavily on their faith in God to pull them through.

“Sometimes you need a reminder that you need God and I prayed so much during that time, please let him get better,” Betsy Smith said.

One other option was for doctors to give Sutherland a high dose of steroids and finally, something worked.

“It was like(finger snap). The fever went away the first down and it was done. It was like the chaos, the apocalypse had ended.” Andrew Smith said.

Their prayers for Sutherland’s recovery were answered.

“He’s a well-rounded, positive and back to normal and back to the Sutherland we know,” Betsy Smith said.

He’s smart young man in school and one you’ll find reading about his faith at home.

“He talked about God and how people should live their lives, ” Sutherland reading.

The Smith’s are forever grateful for the work done at Le Bonheur, a hospital they call a world-class facility.

“Definitely i will not understate the caliber of the doctors there and the team, brilliant but caring, Betsy Smith said.

Sutherland’s exceptional care at Le Bonheur has him even thinking about a career in medicine.

Maybe like a doctor or something like that because I want to be a nice person and help people,” Sutherland said.

Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital is helping children like Sutherland and their families who were touched by a caring staff providing specialized care.

“I would tell them thank you for saving my life,” Sutherland said.