For some high school students about to turn 16, their minds are on getting their first driver’s license and plans for the next weekend.
Glendale High School student Tyler Eshenbaugh’s thoughts are about getting out of ICU and back home to his favorite cat, Opal.
Eshenbaugh spent the last two months diagnosed with the human metapneumovirus, which can cause upper and lower respiratory tract infections.
“I had a cold, and I guess he caught it,” said Tyler’s mother, Susan Matthiesen. “I went to go check on him, and he couldn’t breathe enough to speak. I took him to Banner Estrella where he was later transferred to Banner Thunderbird and what was supposed to be a couple of days turned into staying a couple of months.”
Tyler was too shy to do an interview or get his picture taken Wednesday, but he nodded in agreement with his mother that his sister Hailey Stezel, who died at age 13, was an angel watching over him during these last two months.
His mother also said family and hospital staffers helped get her through the trying time.
On Wednesday, Tyler received a surprise birthday party from Banner Thunderbird Child Life Specialists. It included a cake and gift.
CEO and founder of Pepped Up, Rob Haberle, surprised Tyler with a new HP laptop computer. Haberle’s Pepped Up foundation gives children that have to spend a lot of time in the hospital electronic gifts.
“I like making the kids smile. They know you’ve brought them something fun. It warms my heart to come in and help them,” Haberle said.
Wendy Pauker, senior manager of Child Life Specialists at Banner Thunderbird, said she met Tyler as a patient eight years ago at Phoenix’s Children’s Hospital.
“He came in very sick two months ago, and we saved his life. To us, it’s very special that we get to celebrate his birthday today,” said Pauker.
“They’ve shown us so much love here. I’m so grateful for everyone here, and they saved my baby,” Matthiesen said.
Eshenbaugh said he is excited to go home and then get back to school soon. His favorite subject in school is science.
If you would like more information about Pepped Up, go to www.peppedup.org.
To contact Denelle Dunn call 623-876-2522 or Ddunn@yourwestvalley.com.