“They tell us they’ve seen miracles, he could be one:” Paralyzed high schooler may be discharged too early

Posted at 10:56 PM, Oct 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-02 23:08:52-04

FREEPORT, Mich. – Eathan Callihan is rebuilding his strength in therapy after a swimming pool accident left him paralyzed mid-August. But less than six weeks into therapy, he’s being discharged, while his mother says he is nowhere ready to come home.

“I don’t think they can predict the future,” said Becky Callihan, Eathan’s mother. “They tell us that they’ve seen miracles happen, and he could be one of them. I don’t think they can predict when that halo comes off.” The halo is the device that holds Eathan's head immobile.

Healing takes time. Becky told FOX 17 her son is making progress in therapy, but he is not ready to come home. “I don’t know how to transport him," said Becky. "He doesn’t fit in our car in an upright position, because the halo hits the ceiling. It’s not a safe way to transport him. And our insurance doesn’t pay for ambucab.”

Seven weeks ago, Eathan dove into his pool and severely injured his spinal cord. He is paralyzed. His family quickly removed the pool from their backyard.

While his family is retrofitting their home, Eathan is hospitalized at Mary Free Bed, working hard in therapy at least three hours per day, building back strength in his arms and hands.

“(I want to) become independent from a wheelchair and be able to move independently through everything,” said Eathan.

But now, Becky said, Eathan is being sent home. Mary Free Bed officials confirmed his discharge date to be Oct. 13.

“We were told by the doctor that the insurance company wasn’t paying anymore, and he had to leave on the thirteenth,” said Becky. She told FOX 17 that doctors originally told their family that Eathan should receive in-patient care for at least three to four months. Becky said the family goal was to be home by Nov. 14, so Eathan could be ready for hunting season.

“I think he deserves a longer stay than what he’s had,” said Becky. “He can’t even learn to roll over right now and help dress himself right now because of the halo. The halo puts a damper on his physical therapy.”

“All the therapists that he works with all think that he needs to be there longer,” said Becky. She said Eathan hasn’t even been in therapy for six weeks, because he’s gotten sick. Just last week he was hospitalized in the ICU with pneumonia.

Mary Free Bed officials did not want to comment specifically on Eathan’s case, but they did say that discharge dates sometimes change. Until then, Becky said, the Callihan family has reached out to State Rep. Mike Calton, are in touch with their insurance company, and will speak with Eathan’s doctor when she returns from vacation next week.

For more information, or if you would like to donate, see Eathan’s donation page.