Doherty's Schafer Reichart is fighting for his life at a children’s hospital in Denver after a case of the flu turned into a life-threatening infection.
After being diagnosed with Influenza A on Monday, Reichart’s condition deteriorated, turning into pneumonia and his kidneys began to fail. He was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Denver on Wednesday, where he was placed on a life-saving ECMO machine when doctors said he had just minutes to live according to Andrew Reichart, Schafer’s uncle.
Andrew Reichart said the family received “good news” just before he placed a call to The Gazette at 2:45 p.m. on Friday. He said the doctors were able to remove Schafer’s life support machine, which had been pumping blood for him since he arrived at Children’s Hospital.
“His heart is beating on its own, and that’s really significant,” Andrew Reichart said. “It’s happening a lot quicker than they thought. He is still very critical and not stable, but this is a first huge step in progress for him to be on his own.”
Schafer Reichart was diagnosed with myocarditis on Wednesday, a condition caused by a viral infection that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood and causes an abnormal heart rhythm. His body was also not responding to antibiotics. At one point Wednesday Reichart's heart rate dropped to the point that he required a few minutes of CPR, and was moved to the cardiac ICU, according to a post on social media.
As of Friday afternoon Reichart is on a ventilator and the damage to his kidneys and lungs will take time to recover, according to Andrew Reichart.
Andrew said spirits are high at Children’s Hospital, as no fewer than 25 people have been with the family to offer support.
“We just had several pastors here and we were celebrating and thanking the Lord for the progress,” Andrew said. “People have been cycling in and out and the support has been overwhelming with people offering to pay for hotels for the family, meals — the outpouring has been just incredible.”
Schafer Reichart, a sophomore, is a staple on the Doherty basketball team averaging 9.1 points per game in his first varsity season.
“He is definitely one of those lead-by-example kids,” said Doherty athletic director Stephanie Leasure. “Only being a sophomore in such a huge role, he really does whatever is necessary and does everything at 100 percent."
Many basketball teams, coaches and former players from around Colorado have sent the family well-wishes with photos, videos and words of encouragement on social media.
“We are so grateful for the support and the outpouring of love from the whole community and beyond Colorado Springs,” Andrew Reichart said. “It’s amazing the various communities around the country reaching out through different networks.”
“He attends the University School, a small private Christian school, and plays basketball for us,” Leasure said. “He’s most known in basketball and he’s played with some of our kids in the summer for several years. And even though they don’t know him well, our kids and staff are asking how they can help, which is pretty cool.”
A closed Facebook group was created so the family could update the community on Reichart’s condition. Over 2,000 people have joined the group.
A GoFundMe page was created to relieve some of the financial stress of medical bills and other expenses for the Reichart family, which has raised over $7,000 in 17 hours.
A meal train was also set up for the community to provide meals for the family through his recovery.
Below is a timeline of Reichart's condition
Reichart was diagnosed with Influenza A, showing classic symptoms. He was sent home and was prescribed medication and stayed in contact with the doctors, following orders as Paul and Beth, Reichart’s parents, took turns monitoring him.
Wednesday morning between 6 and 7 a.m. his condition turned into bacterial pneumonia, which began threatening his organs.
“Beth saw his shallow breathing and redness on his body,” Andrew said. “She had pneumonia years ago and heard the wheezing and congestion in his chest and knew something was changing, and they took him to the ER.”
Andrew said doctors diagnosed him right away, and saw his kidneys were shutting down.
A post on a closed Facebook group said his kidneys, heart and lungs began to shut down on Wednesday.
Reichart was transported by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Denver where he began receiving treatment, including the ECMO, according to a Facebook post, in which a machine pumps his blood and helps him breathe.
“He was on his deathbed coming in there with minutes to live,” Andrew said. “One of the procedures before putting in the ECMO is to put a temporary hole between ventricles in his heart to help the blood flow, and they found that he already had a hole right where it was supposed to be that no one knew about. That helped them quicken the process of getting him on the ECMO machine that saved his life.
“At that point we knew God was capable of intervening here.”
Reichart was diagnosed with myocarditis, a condition caused by a viral infection that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood and causes an abnormal heart rhythm. He body was also not responding to antibiotics. At one point Wednesday Reichart’s heart rate dropped to the point that he required a few minutes of CPR and was moved the the cardiac ICU, according to a post on social media.
Reichart saw small improvements from Wednesday to Thursday as his condition went from minute-by-minute to hour-by-hour, according to a post from Lydia Debelak.
“Last night was peaceful — Schaf had rest and sleep after struggling greatly for a few hours,” the post read. “The ECMO machine saved his life. It’s taking blood out and putting oxygen back in his blood and back into his heart.”
The post said Reichart was also placed on a ventilator to help him breathe steadily.
“This is all very miraculous and very serious,” the post said. “He is squeezing our hand and nodding his head. A little while ago he whispered “wa” and did a sign for “water.” They said that was amazing!”
Debelak posted on Facebook late Thursday that doctors removed monitors from Reichart’s brain, a precaution they had taken to eliminate fears of brain damage.
Bloodwork results that came in early in the morning determined that strep caused many of the problems Reichart is facing, according to a post on Facebook.
“The more they can narrow down what his body is fighting the more they can specify his antibiotics,” Luke Andrew Reichart said in a post. “They are saying he could be on his heart regulator for 1 week, a ventilator for his lungs for 1-2 weeks, and the dialysis for his kidneys for 1-6 weeks.”
Doctors weaned Schafer Reichart off of the ECMO and his heart responded positively, beating on its own for 20 minutes, and he was later taken off completely, a huge step, according to Andrew.
“The ECMO is the most intense life support so that means Schafe is starting to use his heart again! Praise the Lord!” Debelak posted.
Schafer Reichart is in critical condition, but is improving.
Andrew said Reichart is under sedation to keep him comfortable, but at one point Friday doctors had to take him off sedation to drain the fluid from his lungs, caused by the pneumonia.
SPARTA family, Yesterday, our soph varsity guard Schafer Reichart became very ill suddenly and was airlifted to Children’s. Last night was a very tough and uncertain night for his family but Schafer is a fighter! For updates on Schaf, see the link below https://t.co/Fk31eiWuH8— Doherty Basketball (@Doherty_Hoops) January 24, 2019
This is bigger than basketball. Prayers up for this young man, his family and the Doherty community. https://t.co/Kcqt68s7eA— Grandview Boys Hoops (@GHSWolvesHoops) January 25, 2019