‘You Count Your Blessings’: Boy, 8, Back In School After Battling Back From Ruptured Appendix, Septic Shock

Grand Forks’ Ben Franklin Elementary School welcomed Tanner Davidson back to class this week.

And come Monday, the 8-year-old third grader is eager for some ice time on a local hockey rink, wearing his new pair of skates.

“It’s hard to believe that on Sept. 26, he was using a walker,” said his dad, Jared Davidson. “That in itself shows how kids bounce back.”

Tanner Davidson, using a walker at Children’s Hospitals & Clinics in Minneapolis in late September. (Submitted photo)

Tanner missed school for much of two months after a ruptured appendix and subsequent stomach infection threatened his life.

Tanner was admitted to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks on Sept. 11 and transported by air ambulance five days later to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

“Tanner all of a sudden went from being a completely healthy boy to septic shock five days later,” Jared Davidson said. “Fortunately he will make a full recovery.”

Tanner originally was taken to Altru Clinic Sept. 11 when his flu-like symptoms hadn’t ceased, as they had for other family members, his father said. Tests showed the boy not only had appendicitis, but it had ruptured.

That day he had the first of three surgeries –the other two in Minneapolis on Sept. 16 and 19 – that left him prepped for a full recovery, but minus a portion of his bowel and part of his large and small intestines, Jared said.

Tanner ultimately was discharged Sept. 30 and came home with his parents back to Grand Forks Oct. 2.

Kamie Davidson is Tanner’s mom. He also has a sister, Morgan, 13.

Grand Forks’ Tanner Davidson. The 8-year-old is shown wearing a T-shirt signed by staff at Children’s Hospitals & Clinics in Minneapolis. (Submitted photo)

On Oct. 5, Tanner made a brief, surprise visit to see his Ben Franklin school classmates.

“It went really well,” Jared recalled. “Lots of questions from the kids. It was great. He didn’t even make it to the door and the third-grade class was yelling his name and running up to him.”

While Tanner is “doing better,” making progress and attending physical therapy multiple times a week, he has a ways to go before he’s completely recovered, Jared said. Tanner still is regaining some lost weight; he weighed around 56 to 58 pounds before his illness, when his weight “got into the 40s,” his father said. Tanner’s incision also remains tender.

His post-operation checkup late last week at Children’s Hospital received “a big thumb’s up” from the medical staff for Tanner to return to school. Children’s Hospital “is amazing,” Jared said. “I really credit them with the fact Tanner’s still here.”

Tanner has been cleared to do more activities once Nov. 1 arrives, but “whether or not he’ll be physically able to do those things by then is another thing,” Jared said. “He’s still happy to be kind of getting back to normal.”

Tanner is signed up to play organized hockey for a second consecutive year, but the Davidsons won’t rush him into the second-year Mites practices, which begin Nov. 3. “We’ll see how he’s doing,” Jared said.  Still, Tanner is eager to try on the new skates he received several days before he was admitted to Altru.

Tanner Davidson, in uniform during his first season of Mites hockey in Grand Forks. (Submitted photo)

Jared is a personal banker at Bremer Bank. Kamie Davidson works in the business office at Valley Oral and Facial Surgery.  Their employers were “amazing” during Tanner’s health crisis, Jared said, and that made matters less stressful for Tanner’s family.  “We are both so fortunate to have the employers we do.”

The past week “feels like an hour” passed, Jared said. In contrast, he said, time at once moved extremely slowly during the weeks Tanner was very sick, even though events now seem to be like “a blur.” There was no way to prepare for it, he said.

“You’re in the back of the bus,” Jared said. “You’re just along for the ride. It’s a roller coaster of ups and downs. You just kind of do your best to be there” for Tanner.

Jared Davidson said he and his family are very appreciative of a fund, initiated and established by family friends in September by charitable nonprofit NDAD, to help pay for Tanner’s medical and related expenses not covered by insurance and other means. He insisted, though, that those families with children facing long-term serious health challenges have an ever greater need.

“It’s not anything I would wish on any parent,” the father said. “Still, we’re fortunate he will make a full recovery. There are families out there with children who will never have a full recovery. What happened with us …. It’s nothing like what they have to go through…. You count your blessings.”


You can donate to the Tanner Davidson Fund at: NDAD, 2660 S. Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201. Or, you can donate to Tanner’s fund – or to other NDAD community fundraisers — at www.ndad.org/fundraisers.asp.

Click the “Give Online” button next to the article and photo of the person or people whom you wish to give a donation; 100 percent of your donations go to that fundraiser.

If you plan to provide a community fundraiser for a needy individual or family, contact NDAD to learn how your plans can be enhanced – at no cost to you or the fundraiser – through its services. Call toll-free 1 (800) 532-NDAD (-6323) or visit http://www.ndad.org/ for more information.

An online promotion earlier this fall for three NDAD-sponsored fundraisers.