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Military family fought to keep baby healthy

Parents went the distance to get care for infant with meningitis.

Article Author: Vikki Mioduszewski

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photo for Military family fought to keep baby healthy article
Mavrick Brewer (1st from right) with his family at his dad's Warrant Officer 1 pinning ceremony.

Mothers have a sixth sense when there is something wrong with their baby and they will go far away if that’s what it takes to give their child the best care. That’s why Amanda Brewer, a retired Army service member, and her husband Chris, then stationed in Savannah, Ga., brought their infant son, Mavrick, to Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville in 2019.

“It was hard, but I would do it all over again,” said Amanda, a mother of five who traveled about 300 miles daily for nearly a month between her home and Wolfson Children’s, where Mavrick was receiving life-saving treatment for bacterial meningitis.

Weighing only three pounds, seven ounces, at birth, Mavrick was born nine weeks early at a Georgia hospital near Hunter Army Airfield, where Chris was stationed at the time.

From the beginning, Mavrick had difficulty eating, so local doctors recommended placing a gastrostomy feeding tube (G-tube) for the infant. Amanda said that at just a week old, Mavrick was diagnosed with MRSA, one of many strains of a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus, and bacterial endocarditis, an infection of the heart. Mavrick’s treatment included antibiotics for six weeks before he was able to go home.

“We were in and out of the hospital all the time,” Amanda said. “When you have a baby with a G-tube, it can be hard.”

She joined an online support group for G-tube feeding parents, where families in similar situations shared their experiences and resources. Through the support group, Amanda learned about Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville and its nationally recognized pediatric care.

‘I knew…I wanted Mavrick transferred to Wolfson Children’s’

Mavrick’s health challenges persisted. In addition to not eating, he became irritable and lethargic. Doctors ordered several tests including a CT scan and MRI, which showed swelling and fluid around his brain. Mavrick was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis, an inflammation of the lining that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.

“I knew right then I wanted Mavrick transferred to Wolfson Children’s,” Amanda said. “My husband was deployed at the time but the military sent him home, and we arranged for a babysitter and after-school care for our other children, who were then between the ages of 2 and 8.”

Once the transfer was arranged, Amanda followed the Kids Kare Mobile ICU carrying Mavrick to Wolfson Children’s Hospital. She made the more-than-two-hour drive from Savannah to Jacksonville daily while Mavrick was receiving treatment.

“Everyone at Wolfson Children’s Hospital was so supportive,” Amanda said. “They knew I was driving two-and-a-half hours each way and that I would have to leave in the afternoon to pick up my other kids. Everyone would reassure me that Mavrick would be cared for while I was gone.”

Wolfson Children’s medical team recommended antibiotic therapy for Mavrick and a specialized catheter IV that would deliver medications, nutrients and fluids so he could begin to heal and thrive.

“The medical team at Wolfson Children’s is amazing,” Amanda said. “The doctors listened to my concerns and answered all of my questions. Everyone on their team is so sweet and treats you like family.”

After 20 days at Wolfson Children’s, Mavrick completed his antibiotic therapy for meningitis and was released to go home.

Mavrick Brewer, 5.

Now 5 years old, Mavrick sees his pediatrician in Enterprise, Alabama, near Fort Novosel, where Chris is in Army flight school. He also sees a pediatric pulmonologist, endocrinologist and neurologist with Nemours Children’s Health in Pensacola for his specialty care resulting from his illness when he was a baby.

“I'm very happy we went to Wolfson Children’s Hospital,” Amanda said. “I know I made the best decision. They gave my baby the best care.”

Wolfson Children’s Hospital offers comprehensive, high-level care for children with life-threatening and urgent medical needs. Wolfson Children’s cares for children from North Florida, South Georgia and beyond, with services provided by pediatric specialists with Nemours Children’s Health, Jacksonville, the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville, Emergency Resources Group, and many community partners. For more information, visit wolfsonchildrens.com.

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