OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. — From an uneventful pregnancy to major health issues after the birth of their daughter, one Mid-South couple has experienced a roller coaster of emotions.

We first told you about eight-year-old Anabelle Krueger and her parents in Olive Branch, Mississippi last fall.

The Kruegers have been Anabelle’s voice because she has epilepsy and she’s non-verbal. Anabelle’s journey began in California where everything seemed almost picture perfect.

“I had a completely normal pregnancy, normal birth experience and for the first months of Anabelle’s life she was on track to developing,” Katie said.

But a few months later, they noticed Anabelle stopped developing. She was not smiling, had limited head control, and was not rolling over.

“We weren’t quite ready to push the alarm button, but at six months old she had not met any of the milestones she should have met at the time,” Katie said.

At first, Anabelle’s doctors said nothing was wrong, but the Kruegers were determined to see a neurologist. He confirmed what they feared.

“We saw that she potentially had epilepsy and we brought her in to be evaluated and turned out that’s what it was,” Walt said.

It was epilepsy and Anabelle would need an MRI, but the California doctor refused to schedule one because the Kruegers were about to move to Jackson, Mississippi. Once they got there, a pediatrician in Jackson agreed to setup an MRI, but they’d have to wait six months for an appointment.

So, a friend recommended Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.

“That’s when Le Bonheur stepped in and really saved us and they told us to be there the next day and we walked in those doors and have never looked back,” Katie said.

Just a few weeks before her first birthday, specialists at Le Bonheur’s Neuroscience Institute diagnosed Anabelle with infantile spasm and epilepsy. For the first time, they had answers.

“The thing that sets Le Bonheur apart from every other hospital we’ve been in is the bedside manner and genuine care and nurses that even the volunteers have,” Walt said.

With the help of Le Bonheur, countless medicines, and dietary changes, Anabelle has been mostly seizure-free since April 2018. She’s growing, enjoys using her iPad, and playing with toys.

“She’s very happy. She smiles all the time. Like I said, she moves and I can’t keep up with her,” Katie said.

For all that Le Bonheur has done for their daughter, the Kruegers take part in Le Bonheur’s Pumpkin Run and are members of the Le Bonheur Club to raise money and volunteer to support the hospital.  

Katie said she also wants to be there for other mothers going through difficult times to share words of encouragement.

“I want to be what she finds and know that as dark as this journey there is some light in the tunnel and there is hope and joy you find along the way,” she said.

As for Walt, he’s now continuing his education in the PhD program for neuroscience at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, a Le Bonheur partner. He feels it’s what God wants him to do — help children like his daughter.

“I wanted to be a strength and conditioning coach. I love football. He (God) started pointing me towards neurology and neuroscience once we had Anabelle and maybe that’s part of my purpose, I’ll be able to help a lot of kids,” Walt said.

The Krueger family is opening their hearts because they see Le Bonheur as a picture of health, caring, and miracles for their daughter.

“I call it a miracle. I’d say persistence, never giving up. You always got to fight and then honestly, the third one I can’t explain it. She’s been in a bunch of hospitals. I’ve never seen a hospital that operates like Le Bonheur,” Walt said.

If you’d like to support the life-saving work at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, scan the QR code, text “Go Jim Go” to 71777 or click here to donate.