Two H1N1 Kids Now Show "Miracle" Progress

Hugh Estlinbaum and his wife Lizzy watch over their son Tony in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tony has been battling the H1N1 flu.
Hugh Estlinbaum and his wife Lizzy watch over their son Tony in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Tony has been battling the H1N1 flu.
CBS
In this H1N1 pandemic, the emergency room's usually crowded at Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

The wait can be 8 hours to see an emergency room doctor like Amanda Bogie. Bogie's treating Alexis Rodriguez. She's six, sick and suffering.

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Every exam room here has another flu family, waiting.

"We are swamped with patients," said Dr. Bogie. "We have a volume that has doubled over the last three weeks."

Doubled, to around 160 emergency room patients a day. Eighty percent of that spike is H1N1 patients.

Most cases are mild. But mysteriously, some turn deadly. In the hospital's intensive care unit, three kids with H1N1 are now fighting for their lives.

Carolyn Howard's daughter Leteasha is the biggest surprise. When we first saw her three weeks ago, Lateasha was unconscious, unresponsive to treatment and sinking. Doctors later took her off life-support.

Against all expectations, Leteasha has steadily improved. She even stirs when she hears her mother's voice.

"I'm ready for you to come home too baby," said her mom Carolyn.

"It's a miracle," said Carolyn. "They said they never saw an 8-year-old fight like this."

Natesha Hart's the newest H1N1 patient here -- as critically ill now as Leteasha was 10 days ago.

Three weeks ago her mother saw CBS News's story about Lateasha, a girl much like her Natesha: overweight, and with asthma -- both H1N1 risk factors.

"I was praying to God we didn't go through the same situation," said her mom Michelle. "And here we go. We're pretty much going through the same thing."

Today Natesha lies two rooms away from Lateasha.

Hugh Estlinbaum's son Tony has shown the most progress. "You're doing great son. I'm proud of you," said Hugh. "Very proud of you."

For almost a month, his parents have hovered over their unconscious fifth-grader. Encouraging him, and waiting for the moment when he opened his eyes. Then he did.

By this weekend, Tony could start physical therapy.

When Hugh saw his son's eyes pop back open, he compared it to what it was like when his son was born.

"It's like we're getting him back," he said.

Eight floors below, Dr. Bogie's back with the Rodriguez family. And discovers something about Alexis's mother.

"You are pregnant," Dr. Bogie said.

Pregnant women are another high risk group in this new virus that is full of surprises.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.