SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Since the beginning of 2020, the Kaundarts have faced life-changing challenges.

January 5, 2020 started as a normal day for the family, but as the day progressed, so did the sudden symptoms of 3-month-old Emma Kaundart.

“She was perfect that morning. We were even sitting on the couch watching church. I was singing to her and she was perfectly happy and about 4 hours later she was gray. She looked terrible,” Emma’s father Jason said.

Emma’s mother Stacey said she was unresponsive, difficult to wake and had been crying in pain.

“She became sick in literally hours.”

Off to Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW) in Springdale, the Kaundarts went.

“Dr. Washer, who’s a doctor on call, it took her about two minutes to tuck her like a football and run her into the crash room. Her heart rate was in the 260s,” Jason remembered.

“We had to act pretty quickly considering her age and how sick she was,” Arkansas Children’s Northwest Dr. Lydia Washer said.

It wasn’t long before Emma was sent to Arkansas Children’s (ACH) in Little Rock for further testing.

It was here doctors found the baby had contracted bacterial meningitis Group B strep.

This diagnosis was surprising not only to the family, but to doctors as well.

“Emma was a little bit older and didn’t have certain risk factors for this disease,” Dr. Washer said.

Though the Kaundart’s had only just learned of their daughters’ sickness, it had already caused some devastating complications.

“We figured out that bacterial meningitis has caused her to have some strokes and a little bit of brain damage,” Jason said.

Emma was hooked up to a penicillin IV for four weeks. Of her 46 days spent hospitalized, she was treated at ACH for 38, the remaining 8 were spent back at ACNW.

“Once the ER staff figured out that we were back, they wanted to get eyes on her because they thought she was going to die.”

Jason Kaundart

When Emma was finally able to return home, things were not back to normal. Within two-and-a-half weeks the coronavirus pandemic caused shutdowns around Arkansas.

Stacey said this has led to some roadblocks in her now one-year-old’s recovery.

“We weren’t able to start therapies and see doctors right away because everything was shut down,” Stacey continued, “even though she was only in the hospital for 6 weeks, we really lost probably another 2 months because of COVID.”

While Emma does have developmental delays, the Kaundarts look forward to the possibility that she could still live a normal life.

“Our therapists, the people that we’ve talked to really think she’s going to be able to make a full recovery,” Jason said.

“Babies have such a remarkable ability to grow in rehab and recovery that adults just don’t have,” Dr. Washer said.

The Kaundarts said without the staff at ACH and ACNW, like Dr. Washer, their little girl’s journey might not have continued.

“We’re confident that she’s here because of them, so if they hadn’t been so on point then I don’t think she’d be here with us.”

Jason Kaundart