The Dollarhide Family

The below information was gleaned from Max’s website, Facebook and Nominations he received as a potential recipient last year and this year. There is also an update from his mother during his surgery this week at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

Max was born on August 21st, 2016 with VACTERL Association. Minutes after he was born he was taken from his mom and put into the nursery to await the pediatrician as he stopped breathing several times right after birth. After several hours of testing, the family was informed of the extent of Max’s problems. His stomach was not attached to his esophagus, instead it had attached itself to his trachea, he had no anus, and his spinal cord was attached to his spinal column instead of floating freely the way it should. They also found a small brain bleed, a heart issue, and a liver issue. The next morning Max had the first of many surgeries and procedures necessary to repair his body.

Even in kindergarten Mighty Max Dollarhide was such a joy to be around and could bring a smile to your face every day you got to teach him.

Max and his mom have had 3 trips back to Boston for multiple surgeries including Orchiopexy; A surgery to bring the testicle down into the scrotum, dental work because of the acid reflux he deals with destroying his teeth, and a glottic cyst removal which turned out to be a solid lump which made it easier to remove thankfully.    

He continues to bring such joy to everyone he meets. He is such a pleasure to be around and from looking at his pictures, everyone on his plane rides got to experience this little guy’s absolutely happy energy. He has named himself “The King of Hugs” and truly thrives on spreading love and happiness. 

Even though he shows great grit though everything, he does have his moments of sadness and pain.  He has started seeing pain management specialists at Doernbecher and started taking gabapentin which, while successful in controlling pain, unfortunately changed his mind set and mental health so had to be stopped.

Our hope is to bring a little bit of happiness to him and his family because even at 7 years old he understands the stress that is put on his family. They have struggled with job loss due to the amount of times they have had to rush Max to hospitals and surgeries. They have struggled with car mechanical difficulties this past year as well and having to reschedule appointments until cars or rides can be arranged. His mother Nicole recently began working again to help her family now that all her boys are in school but unfortunately Max’s care still requires a lot of attention and she misses a lot of time at work for appointments and trips. She counts herself blessed to be employed by a fantastic community daycare that allows her to take the time she needs to care for Max appropriately without the worry of losing her job.  

The Esophageal and Airway Treatment Center at Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the only programs in the country specifically designed to care for children with all forms of esophageal atresia. Here is a look at part of the surgery that was being discussed to help Max be able to eat and swallow safely without damaging his lungs; Jejunal interposition is one of three surgical procedures that use portions of other organs to treat esophageal atresia in some children. In colon transposition, a piece of colon is moved and used as a replacement esophagus, while in gastric pull-up, the stomach is pulled up into the chest and connected directly to the top section of the esophagus. Unfortunately, Boston was not able to provide any of these options currently to help Max and the family withdrew care and is seeking and receiving help from another team at Cincinnati Children’s hospital.

On Monday August 14th, 2023 the family loaded up and headed to the airport only to find their flight to Ohio had been canceled. Thankfully they were able to get a new flight. On Tuesday things were pretty crazy as they were shoved into 3 appointments they didn’t even realize they would have.

On Thursday Max went into what was expected to be a 4-5 hour surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. The team took Max back at 7:30am and the whole ordeal was not completed until 2:30pm. Unfortunately the surgery was more invasive than they planned and his incision was larger than expected. They had to spread his ribs significantly further than anticipated. Max’s anatomy isn’t normal and they encountered what they think was his right recurrent laryngeal nerve which got ‘pretty beat up’ according to the surgeon and may be significantly damaged.

Max was scheduled to be in CICU for five days, but on Friday night he was doing well enough to be moved into the step down unit. On Saturday he was able to get both chest tubes out, but was vomiting and was having trouble managing his secretions. Those two issues seem to have resolved but Max is currently having some issues with fluid on his lungs which may possibly delay his ability to come home in the expected time frame. On a positive note Max was able to stand up with assistance and get out of bed to use the restroom on his own. He even had a few bites of actual food without the feeling of choking on every bite!

This was anesthesia number 188 for Max! He is currently being monitored for possible pulmonary hypertension due to an enlarged pulmonary artery. Max will also need life-long care for his esophageal and airway issues. Prayers are appreciated. Today August 21st, 2023 is Max’s 7th birthday! Happy Birthday Max! They are expecting to be released to the Ronald McDonald House today. As soon as his lungs are healed and can safely fly on an airplane, they should be able to fly home!

Max and his family of 5 are blessed to be a part of the pig bowl this year. Let’s all come alongside them as they continue to navigate through these hard times.

See more about Max and up to date information via his website and facebook: