Tuesday, 23 January 2018 00:16

Helping Hunter Help Others: The H3O Challenge

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Hunter Lyerly and the H3O Challenge: Helping Hunter Help Others. Hunter Lyerly and the H3O Challenge: Helping Hunter Help Others. Contributed photo.

ROCKINGHAM – Kim Lyerly and her husband James are on a quest and are in need of the community’s assistance.


The Lyerlys believe themselves to have been blessed and, in turn, wish to help others who might find themselves in circumstances similar to what they recently experienced.

Discovering in July of 2016 that they would once again be graced with the birth of a child (their third), James (also known as Buckie or “Biggie”) and Kim were thrilled to be told that this one would be a boy, the perfect complement to their two daughters, Ryelan (12) and Kinsie (10).

Although Kim experienced a few minor issues during her pregnancy, there was never any indication of anything to even alert, much less prepare, the Lyerlys for what was to come.

Hunter James Lyerly came into the world on March 17, 2017, at FirstHealth Moore County Hospital as a (seemingly) healthy boy of ten pounds.  However, within two hours, he began to show signs of serious respiratory problems. 

Quick action was implemented by the hospital personnel, and it was discovered that both of Hunter’s lungs had collapsed.  This subsequently led to pulmonary hypertension, a condition that, for newborns, has a fatality rate of 40 percent. 

Panic set in when the doctor told Kim that, “things don’t look good,” and she then overheard a nurse whisper, “I don’t think there is anything else we can do.”

As fate would have it, the doctor attending Hunter was also a staff member at UNC; it was her call to immediately Life Flight him to Chapel Hill that was probably most responsible for saving his life.  Or perhaps it was yet another “action” that was even more important.

While awaiting the helicopter, a prayer vigil was held around Hunter’s incubator.  Led by Austin Clark, the Lyerlys’ pastor at Faith Freewill Baptist Church, FirstHealth Moore County medical personnel joined hands with Kim and James, contributing their voices to the pleas to God for Hunter’s survival.

Evidently, God was listening.

Upon arrival at UNC, Kim, who had just undergone a caesarian section delivery a few hours earlier and was suffering from extreme discomfort after the arduous hour-long ride, noted the “miraculous” positioning of an untended wheelchair immediately adjacent to the only vacant parking space in the lot.   

Miracle number two was soon forthcoming as well.  While waiting on word of Hunter’s progress, the Lyerlys were informed that, although the Ronald McDonald “Home Away From Home” House had no rooms available as recently as an hour ago, one had suddenly appeared as vacant - the Lyerlys had a place to stay.

Good things come in threes. 

A particular nurse in the UNC Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Jessica Price Martin, happened to be on duty at the time of Hunter’s arrival.  Jessica took special interest in the plight of the Lyerlys and provided support far above normal expectations.

Perhaps the final miracle was the ultimate outcome of Hunter’s struggle.  It was noted by medical personnel that Hunter was lacking “surfactant” and that, even if he was able to somehow overcome the immediate life-threatening issues, most neonates take many weeks, if not months, before they can come home; Hunter was released from UNC within two weeks of his arrival and has shown absolutely no signs of any problems of any type since.

Eight weeks from now, the Lyerlys will celebrate the first anniversary of Hunter’s birthday, and they do not hesitate to give all the credit to God and His work through the medical personnel at both FirstHealth Moore County Hospital and UNC Memorial Hospital. 

The term “miracle baby” has been cast about, of course, but Kim and James are steadfast in their contention that it was indeed the work of the Lord that has enabled Hunter to progress towards this most significant date as a happy, healthy baby.   

“He literally flat-lined in the crib,” said Kim.  “That was certainly a test of faith for us, but we have to attribute his survival to knowing that God will make a way.” 

She added that, “we have to let our faith be bigger than our fear.”

It is this “faith being bigger than fear” focus that Kim and James want to share with others.  This mission has now manifested itself into a pragmatic objective:  raise funds and collect donations for UNC Hospital in general and the Ronald McDonald House in particular. 

“We wanted to find a way to help parents who find themselves in circumstances similar to what we went through,” said Kim, and she believes that the Richmond County community will help with this commendable cause. 

Chris and Ashley Turner, owners of Twisted Treats in Rockingham, were kind enough to allow their business to be used as a drop-off site for donations in Hunter’s name.  While contributing patrons are free to come by during any business hours, the Lyerlys have asked that Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays be the primary designated drop-off days.

It is hoped that a substantial amount of funds and items can be delivered to the UNC Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units, as well as the Ronald McDonald House itself.   

Kim notes that donations of the following items would be greatly appreciated:

Food: sugar packets, Splenda, coffee creamer, hot cocoa, single-serving frozen meals, breakfast foods, pudding, fruit cups, Ramen noodles, non-condensed canned soups, Chef Boyardee products, Pop Tarts, raisins, granola bars and instant grits (single packets).

Miscellaneous: plastic utensils (spoons, forks, knives, sporks), paper towels, dryer sheets, three-section take-out boxes, trash bags (13 or 60 Gallon), cleaning sprays, laundry detergent, solo cups, firewood, 20-inch color televisions and baby rash ointment.

Gift Cards: Kroger, Food Lion, Walmart, Home Depot, Target

Please visit RMHDurhamWake.org for further details regarding items for which there is need.