How Five Minutes and a New Pediatric Trauma Center Made a Difference for a Miracle Child

Brinley Oldham is a Miracle Child — a real, honest-to-goodness one. Growing up in a ranching family, she’s never been afraid of riding horses or branding cattle. She was helping brand the herd in rural Hammett, Idaho, on April 27, 2019, when the unthinkable happened.

“It had been a long day, it was getting toward the end of it, and we had maybe 20 left to do out of 200,” said her stepmom, Jessica Oldham. “I could tell she was getting tired.”

Brinley wouldn’t quit. She declined Jessica’s suggestion that she go play with other kids.

“She was going back to get another tag and I heard someone yell, ‘There’s a cow!’ and looked up right when it hit her,” Jessica said.

Her father, Spencer, also saw the horrific scene unfold. “It hit her right on the side of her head. It knocked her flat on her face and just stomped her right in her back.”

In those nightmarish first moments, Brinley’s family did not see the miracle starting to take shape. Just 12 days earlier, Idaho’s only Pediatric Trauma Center — funded in part by donations from Credit Unions for Kids — opened at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise. Prior to that, Brinley’s nearest life-saving option was 350 miles away, and for severely injured children, the first hour of treatment is critical.

St. Luke’s dispatched Air Rescue to the ranch. The 60-mile flight took only minutes but must have seemed like an eternity to Brinley’s dad. A lot of thoughts ran through Spencer’s mind, including what life would look like without his daughter.

“I couldn’t imagine it,” he recalls tearfully. “She always makes everything so much better.”

As the helicopter bringing Brinley in was landing, an entire team of highly trained specialists and the best medical trauma equipment available was waiting.

“The word I cannot get away from when I describe what Brinley first looked like to us is blunt,” said Ike Eichenlaub, a flight nurse at St. Luke’s. “And I apologize if it’s too much, but the word is ‘broken.’”

Brinley was in cardiac arrest, had multiple rib fractures, a collapsed lung, and liver and spleen injuries. Later a CT scan would reveal more frightening news; she’d suffered several strokes.

They fixed her.

“We were able to save her life and act quickly because everything was ready. And everyone was ready,” said Dr. David A Klima, Director of Pediatric Surgery.” There’s a lot of stuff going on in a trauma bay that can be pretty intimidating, but it ran exactly the way it was supposed to.”

Timing and medical expertise were everything.

“They said if we would have been five minutes out, she wouldn’t have made it,” Jessica said.

But amazing things happen in Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Brinley was released from St. Luke’s a month later. And what she did next will amaze you.

We’re saving that part of her story for the main stage at the Enchanted Northwest Gala, the Credit Unions for Kids dinner and auction taking place at MAXX Convention in Boise on Oct. 6. Visit the auction online to learn how you can attend, and donate gift baskets, adventurous trips, and other creative packages sure to drive bidding high.

Posted in CU4Kids, MAXX Annual Convention.