SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA) — For the first eight years of her life, Olivia Williams had lived like a normal kid but in May 2019 she learned she was anything but normal.
Olivia had been suffering from stomach pains, fever, and vomiting which led to her being taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. “Within hours of being there she was admitted to the PICU and we were there for three weeks,” Olivia’s mom Sheena said.
Originally doctors diagnosed Olivia with Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
“It progressed very aggressively very quickly and within six hours of that initial diagnosis … all of her organs began shutting down,” Sheena said.
Doctors later learned she was suffering from a rare form of HUS, Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The National Institutes of Health describes the sickness as one that causes abnormal blood clots in small blood vessels in the kidneys. “Which affects two in every one-million people,” Sheena said.
It was an overwhelming time for Olivia. She went from being relatively healthy to hospitalized for weeks. “I was like just take me home, I want to be done with it.”
But from the very beginning, doctors and staff at ACH were there for the Williams.
“Our pediatrician actually came in at 3 in the morning started explaining everything to us which was very comforting. It was in terms that we could understand and relate to,” Sheena continued, “by that next morning, which was 8 a.m., she had a dialysis catheter placed in her neck because her kidneys had completely shut down.”
Sheena said Olivia was more than a patient to most who cared for her daughter during her hospital stay.
If you cry, they may cry with you and they’ll hold your hand and they’ll allow you to take notes and fill several notebooks like I did and it not be any issue whatsoever,”Sheena
In addition to answering any questions the family had, ACH offered plenty of distractions.
Olivia said during her time at the hospital, it was the four-legged therapy dogs who helped brighten her days. “They would let you get on a little rug and make the therapy dog sit and snuggle [with] you and comfort you which was really nice.”
With wide eyes, she recalled the guy who walked ACH’s halls with the art cart. “He had color books, paint, he could make animals out of cardboard boxes so I thought that’d be cool,” Olivia said.
It’s these positive experiences at ACH that have influenced Olivia’s future. She now wants to be a doctor.
“Getting to take [care] after the kids and getting to comfort them and getting them help through the process through the long road of recovery,” Olivia said.
Until then, you can find Olivia continuing her treatment at Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale, where she also serves as an ambassador for the hospital.