3-Year-Old Hospital Patient Becomes a Firefighter for a Day

Edison, age 3, loves all things related to firefighting. His room in his Dallas-area home is decorated with fire engines and posters of firefighters; he has his own electric ride-on fire truck; his favorite color is red; and he wants to be a fireman when he grows up. He’s a curious, outgoing little boy, who doesn’t let obstacles stop him from fulfilling his heart’s desires.

“He’ll try something and fail, but he always gets back up and tries again,” said Christi Clinger, Edison’s mom. He is always open to trying new things no matter how difficult the tasks may be – that’s the way he lives his life.”

Undergoing Innovative Treatment to Reduce His Cerebral Palsy Symptoms

Edison was born with cerebral palsy, a condition that is the result of brain damage during brain development. It’s characterized by poor muscle control and coordination, underdeveloped muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Last week, the Clinger family traveled to Houston, so Edison could undergo Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) surgery, a neurosurgical procedure that helps reduce spasticity in individuals with cerebral palsy. The procedure was performed by Dr. Manish Shah, a pediatric neurosurgeon affiliated with the Texas Comprehensive Spasticity Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

The first two days following surgery, Edison showed signs of his normal daily routines. He played with his toy fire engines and watched one of his favorite cartoons, Fireman Sam. He even read the book, The Fire Cat, which he selected from the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital library. During his post-surgery recovery, Clinger asked her son’s nurses if she could have a Houston Fire Department sticker for Edison’s fire hat, but the nurses were able to get something much more exciting than stickers for Edison.

Getting a Surprise Visit from Local Firefighters

“The nurses and Child Life specialists told me that a group of firefighters had agreed to visit Edison and I loved the idea of him being able to meet his heroes in real life,” Clinger said. “I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, so I told him we needed to go to the first floor of the hospital for a few minutes. He refused to leave the room without his fireman’s hat and jacket. He knew we were going to do something special, but he didn’t know what it was until we stepped outside of the Emergency Center, and he saw the Fire Chief’s vehicle. His eyes lit up and he knew right away that something big was going to happen.”

Houston Fire Department Engine 16 firefighters surprised Edison with a show-and-tell right outside of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. They gave Edison a tour of a pumper truck, a ladder truck and  let him activate the fire engine’s siren.

“He absolutely loved it! He asked so many questions during the tour. His favorite part was when he guided the water hose and knocked over a cone,” Clinger added.

It was an act of kindness that Clinger said definitely made a lasting impression on Edison.

“I’m so appreciative of the Houston Fire Department and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital staff for going the extra mile to brighten Edison’s day and make his dreams come true. He’s such a special little boy who is so clever and creative,” said Clinger. “ His willpower and resilience despite his disability remind me that there is nothing too difficult to overcome, you just have to put forth the extra effort to achieve your goal.”

Learn more about Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital.

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Ali Vise