Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa vs. Maryland, Oct. 1, 2021

An infection when she was a toddler left BraeLynn Krisinger on a ventilator and fighting for her life, leading to an emergency flight to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

“She was a perfectly healthy, full-term baby up until about 18 months of age when she got very sick,” her mother, Christina, recalls. “It was just high fevers and lots of vomiting due to the high fever. It looked like what the doctors said would be just a typical virus.”

After being admitted to a Des Moines hospital, doctors discovered BraeLynn had bacterial tracheitis, a potentially lethal infection of the trachea.

It was pretty traumatic to her airway and they just knew at that point, there was nothing more that we could do locally and that she was going to need the help of specialists to save her.

Christina Krisinger, BraeLynn's mother

“It was a MRSA infection, so, it was very, very dangerous,” her mother recalls, adding that BraeLynn also had pneumonia. “She almost didn't make it.”

BraeLynn remained on a ventilator for nearly two months but required an emergency tracheotomy after her condition worsened.  

“When they tried to take the tube out and get her back awake, there was just too much damage done from the illness,” Christina remembers. “Her airway was pretty damaged.”

BraeLynn was flown to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

BraeLynn in transport to University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital
BraeLynn being transported by helicopter to University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital

“It was pretty traumatic to her airway and they just knew at that point, there was nothing more that we could do locally and that she was going to need the help of specialists to save her,” says Christina, who  was on the flight to Iowa City, while her husband, Brandin, drove with the rest of their family from Des Moines. “She went right into their PICU. We were greeted with several nurses on the floor, doctors, the team of otolaryngologists, even pulmonology was there.”

The care team discovered a blood clot was blocking her airway.

“After that happened, emergency CPR had to happen,” her mother says. “It was very traumatic. Again, we thought, it was very close. We didn't know if we were going to lose her at that point.”

“They quickly changed out her trach and brought her back. And as soon as she came back, it's like nothing happened,” Christina adds. “She's just smiling and dancing and laughing with the nurses. And it was just, the most relieving moment of my life, I think.”

During their stay at that time, BraeLynn had surgery, followed by various operations over the next several years.

“After one big surgery, they were able to actually get rid of her trach,” Christina says, adding that another surgery followed two years later that included a bypass procedure. “Just because of how many surgeries that she had already had... they really felt the best thing for her would be to put her on the heart and lung machine just to make sure that she was as safe as possible going through this operation.”

BraeLynn resting after surgery
BraeLynn rests after her surgery August 2016.

The surgery was a success.

Now 9, BraeLynn loves to dance and enjoys making new friends.

“She’s just happy, no matter what she's gone through,” her mother says. “She doesn't let anything limit her. She has no fear whatsoever and I think that's really helped her get through a lot of this.”

Her parents are grateful for the care BraeLynn has received at Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

“They've taken such good care of our daughter, but they really truly care about the families, too. I can't thank them enough for the many times they've gotten me through some of the scariest times of our life,” Christina says. “It truly makes the amount of time spent away from home a little easier when you know you are in some of the best hands there are. From the nurses to the doctors and specialists, the care here is exceptional.”

BraeLynn outside of the press box
BraeLynn holding a BraeLynnStrong sign near the Press Box on Level 12 of University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Specially trained pediatric surgeons provide surgical care at UI Stead Family Children's Hospital covering the complete range of surgical treatments that address congenital disorders and conditions caused by disease or injury.

Twelve current and former University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital patients are ready for the spotlight as the Kid Captain program returns for the 2021 Iowa Hawkeye football season. Learn more about this partnership with the Iowa Hawkeyes football team honoring pediatric patients and to celebrate their inspirational stories.