UPDATE Sept. 16, 2016: I’m proud to announce that Mr. Patrick Sharrock has just been elected president of the freshman class at Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe High School!
Original story from Nov. 26, 2015:
I’ll never forget the Extreme Makeover of the Sharrock family home in Rossville, Georgia. In February 2011, the team from the ABC show, along with thousands of local volunteers tore down a tiny home, building a beautiful new one in its place.
Michael and Cindy Sharrock’s then 8-year-old son Patrick was born with brittle bone disease. In the old house, he struggled to get through narrow doorways in his wheelchair. Bathroom facilities were not handicap-accessible. Tripping hazards were everywhere. Light switches, sinks and shelves were far beyond his reach. During his short life, Patrick had broken more than sixty bones.
During the incredible one-week rebuild, the old home was demolished and a modern 3,000 square foot went up in its place. I had never seen this community come together in such a display of good will. In addition to the massive volunteer building effort, thousands showed up to cheer for the workers and the family. It was one of the most positive experiences of my broadcasting career.
More importantly, Patrick now had plenty of space to navigate, a room in which to study, and an indoor therapy pool. For more than four years, life was good.
Then, earlier this month something went wrong. Cindy woke up one morning to an unusual sound: silence. Patrick was not scooting through the house. She found him on his bed, unable to move. He told her something must have happened in his sleep. He was in pain, unable to get into his wheelchair.
After rushing him to the hospital, it was determined Patrick had a seizure overnight. He didn’t fall out of bed. In his fragile state, any sudden movement can result in broken bones. He had broken both legs, several ribs and a shoulder. Local doctors made the decision to send him to a children’s hospital in Lexington, Kentucky which was better equipped to treat him.
Thus began a two-week journey that would take this family through a roller coaster of emotions. What started as a mission to heal Patrick’s broken bones became a life-and-death battle. X-rays revealed spots on his lungs. As Patrick struggled to breathe, doctors told the family he had a collapsed lung. He was put on oxygen, but Patrick told the doctors it was not enough. He was sedated in an effort to ease his pain, and to buy some time. As his heart began to weaken, he was put on a respirator.
Doctors called in the Sharrocks and told them to prepare for the worst. “It’s time to think about end-of-life care,” they were told. “There’s no way Patrick can endure surgery. His body just can’t take it.”
Cindy did what any mother would do. She prayed, and prayed hard. She informed friends via phone, email, and social media. Within hours, it was on the news: that little guy we had come to know and love was fighting for his life.
I won’t even try to explain what happened two days later. I’ll let Patrick’s dad tell you. “They were doing a cardiogram,” Michael said. “I’m nosy, so I went in to watch. During the scan, one of the doctors said that his heart is starting to work again, almost getting back to normal. The doctor kept saying, this does not happen. This does not happen.”
Cindy said, “The doctors were just standing there in amazement. I said to myself, I’m not going to cry. I’ve seen this before. This is so Patrick. When he was born, we were told he would never make it. They said he would not leave the hospital alive. And today he’s 14!”
By today, she means Thanksgiving day, Patrick’s 14th birthday. Two weeks ago, they were told he would not live to see it. Even as he improved, the family expected to spend the holidays in the hospital.
You’re welcome to call this a Thanksgiving/birthday miracle. As I visited with the family, Patrick was Patrick. Yes, he has a cast on his leg, and he’s a bit hoarse from having a tube down his throat. But the quick wit is alive and well. “What do you want to say to the people who’ve been praying for you?” I asked. “Tell ’em I didn’t die!” he said with a big smile. “I was under sedation for a while, and then I woke up, looked around and said… what the heck happened?” Turning serious for a brief moment, he added, “I’m thankful to have so many friends, and I get to be home for my Thanksgiving birthday. The doctors and nurses gave me VIP treatment, and it was great knowing everyone was thinking about me.”
Patrick reads constantly, and Robin Williams is his comedy hero. “He has a lot of Robin in him,” Cindy said. “You never know what he’s going to say.”
Always the funniest guy in the room, and the brightest light in the house, Patrick Sharrock continues to surprise and amaze us all, especially the doctors. “He’s always been such a strong spirit,” Cindy said. “I think they underestimated his will to live. When he puts his mind to doing something, it’s going to happen. That’s just Patrick!”
Happy birthday Patrick. Enjoy your turkey, your cake, your Minecraft games and your Legos. And thank you for your determination, your perseverance, and your love of life. You’ve given us all another reason to give thanks.
BONUS! At the end of the interview, Patrick said he was going to get a Mariachi band to wish us a Merry Christmas. He went to his bedroom, came back, and lived up to his end of the deal. Watch for his great smile at the end. Enjoy!