Children’s Miracle Network: Meet Raeleigh Goodwin

Children’s Miracle Network: Meet Raeleigh Goodwin
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:12 AM EDT
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WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Active and playful, 7-year-old Raeleigh Goodwin of Williamston is full of life. But for a while last summer, her parents were worried they’d lose her.

“She just kept going down, kept getting worse,” said Raeleigh’s mother Jennifer.

But in August 2022, she was in the PICU with a feeding tube.

Jennifer said she knew something was wrong when Raeleigh started acting tired while she was at her grandma’s.

“She called me up and said she’s not eating, and she’s not swimming in the pool, and her head’s hurting real bad. And I said that’s really unusual for her because she eats a lot,” explained Jennifer.

They rushed her to the emergency room at ECU Health in Greenville. Just when they thought she was starting to improve, she took a turn for the worse.

“She got to the point where she was completely refusing to drink or eat with any… I could put the straw in her mouth, and she wasn’t drinking,” Jennifer explained. “Then she started with, like, convulsions, while she was in the emergency department. They weren’t sure what was going on.”

She was moved to the PICU and stayed for 11 days.

Two MRIs and one EKG later, they found out she had encephalitis from Covid, meaning swelling on the brain. It was causing her body to overreact to everything.

“They finally gave her a feeding tube after being there for about five days,” Jennifer said.

She and her husband, Eric, thought they might have to start making some tough decisions.

“Seeing her like she was at the time, you’re thinking about the worst, but you’re hoping for the best,” said Eric. “We actually sat down in the ICU room and started talking about what happens if this happens, what happens if this takes place.”

But Jennifer said it was faith, and the help of nurses and doctors at James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital, that helped them persevere.

“It was nice to have someone else there to help when times did get rough, and we could just stand by the bed and make sure she wasn’t hurting herself,” explained Jennifer. “That was a big fear that she was gonna hurt herself or pull that feeding tube out.”

“I just tried to stay calm because I knew things were gonna get better,” Jennifer continued. “I trusted that God was gonna heal her and he was putting all the doctors and nurses in place to do that, to heal her.”

It took time, but she started to get better, but Jennifer said there were some scary moments.

“The whole time she was in there, she wasn’t speaking either. She never said anything for the longest time, and she was in the hospital and then went to rehab,” said Jennifer. “She was there for 37 days. When she got to rehab one day, she woke up and she was smiling at me, and she said momma, and that was the best… the best thing in the world.”

As for her thoughts on getting to come home, Raeleigh has one word to describe how she felt.

“Happy!” Raeleigh said with a giggle. She has big plans now that she’s back.

“The first thing she said when she got in the car was, ‘I wanna go to Tweetsie Railroad and Dollywood,” said Eric.

“She loves Tweetsie railroad and Dollywood and Busch Gardens,” Jennifer said. “She loves places like that where she can ride roller coasters and the dancing and the music. She loves all of those things.”

Raeleigh is now back to her old self. Her mom said the only thing she struggles with are fine motor skills, like her handwriting. But if that’s the worst outcome from all of this, Jennifer said she’ll take it.