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Patricia Stiles –Dairy Farmer, Grandmother, Hero, Fighting for Her Life!


Patricia Stiles and grand daughter Reese Burdette

Patricia Stiles and grand daughter Reese Burdette

Patricia Stiles, of Waverly Jerseys heard her granddaughter Reese Burdette, daughter of Claire and Justin Burdette (Windy Knoll View Holsteins) scream as a fire had engulfed the house,  and ran in to save her.  Both are now fighting for their lives as they suffered major smoke inhalation.

The fire was seemingly started by an electrical cord and quickly spread through the home of Patricia and Mike Stiles.

Both Patricia and Reese have a tremendous mountain to climb, but we have some good news as the day has gone on.  They say right now Reese’s lungs look good, but they say there is still some soot on them and some fluid, which is normal because of all the medications she is on.  She has gone through two skin graph surgeries, which is fantastic news for this stage.  She said 35 percent of the child’s body has second- and third-degree burns, but that she is “strong”.  Doctors have estimated at least 15 to 30 surgeries for the girl over the next few months — many for skin grafting. Reese is a brave, strong little girl. She is quickly winning the hearts of nurses and doctors.  The doctors at John Hopkins are optimistic with where she is right now, but they are taking it day to day.

Patricia, who was airlifted to Washington Medical is still in rough shape, but her vitals are good, and that is positive news.  They have sucked a lot of the soot out of her, which is also good. Patricia’s lungs are inflamed and that about 27 percent of her body — mostly her  face, arms, hands and feet — contain mostly third-degree burns.  Doctors are hopeful about both Stiles and Reese, but say it will be a long recovery, –

Patricia is truly a hero because she has always said she would put her life before her grand kids and today she did exactly that.

To read more about this story check out  Why the Dairy Community is the Greatest in the World…. 

May 27th Update –   Reese did have to have a blood transfusion last night but they said that was pretty normal because of all the medications she is on. She has been taken off one of the three blood pressure medications that she has been on. The doctors said this morning her lungs sounded great and there didn’t seem to be any thing around them which is also good. Usually sounds like a wash board at this point but it was clear as day which is a miracle in itself. She has a big surgery today that is an important one and if it goes well they can take the tube out and we may be able to respond with her. No updates on Patricia at this time.

An update from Justin Burdette on his daughter Reese:

Claire and I want to thank all our friends and family from close at home to around the world for all the positive thoughts and prayers you have given for us and Reese during the last two days. At 5 this afternoon Reese got out of another surgery with very promising results that they will soon be able to start the process of actual skin grafts. We also received great news that she may be taken off the ventilator in the next 24 hrs as she has shown terrific progress in her lungs!!! That is a very phenomenal feat at this stage. She is stronger than we could ever be and definetly a fighter! We are so overwhelmed with everyone’s heartfelt concerns and prayers and just wanted to take a minute to update everyone.

May 28th Update: Patricia is holding her own and may even be a tad bit better than yesterday. Her lungs continue to be what worry the doctors right now. She inhaled so much smoke and soot and her lungs are just angry and inflamed. Her lungs arent quite strong enough right now to sedate her or for her to undergo surgery right now. Doctors hope that maybe by Thursday she can head to the OR to better access her burns and begin her surgeries. They will begin with her worst and deepest burns which are her hands and feet. Patricia is covered with wrap from her neck to her waist and her feet. Her face was bandaged today as well and looked much more puffy today. She cannot talk because of the ventilator but does sign with her finger and makes letters in the air. 

May 29 Update: They had hoped that Reese would have been taken off the ventilator today but she was not quite ready for that. She experienced some fluid in her lungs which is not unexpected due to all the fluid she is receiving. Also when they tried to lower her sedatives she became to alert for still having the ventilator in place. She kept the nurses on their toes today and they will sleep good tonight!! Just goes to show she is a fighter! On a positive note, she has gone from 4 to 1 medicines controlling her blood pressure. She is as beautiful as ever! Reese can definitely hear your thoughts and prayers so please keep them coming! Today was a long day for Patricia’s family and they know there will be many. Patricia started out having a good day and communicating with the nursing staff…about 10:30 this morning she began having a great deal of trouble breathing and spiked a 103 degree fever. She started throwing up and started with a bad nose bleed…they had to sedate her to calm her and clean her up…she appeared to be resting well and relaxed by early afternoon. They were very concerned about a pulmonary embolism and did tests to check for that later this afternoon…the good news….she is clear for surgery tomorrow afternoon! This will be Patricia’s first surgery of skin grafts. The doctor was very “frank” with the family in explaining that that still need “many prayers, a little luck and his best work” for Patricia to pull through this. So please, please continue to pray for Patricia and for Reese.

May 30 Update – What a difference a day makes… Patricia was doing so much better today. Laura Jackson (Claire’s daughter) comments that “I actually broke down into happy tears when I saw her this morning because it was the first time she really looked like my mom”. Patricia was resting peacefully, wasn’t restless or fidgity. She did open her eyes and looked at us…she communicated by nodding yes and no. Her vitals seem to be good…still has a fever – (which has actually spiked quite a bit more tonight). But she is breathing good and doing all that the doctors ask of her. The therapist worked with her today – moved her fingers, arms and legs and even sat her up. Her surgery that was scheduled for today got bumped to tomorrow because the morning surgeries went longer than expected – so to give Patricia a well rested and attentive surgeon, they bumped her to tomorrow. The family learned today that Patricia may not need skin grafts on her feet (which is unbelievable considering she walked through fire to get to Reese)…they say the feet are so tough (and Patricia’s were real tough as she was one of those barefoot walkers that could walk over a gravel driveway and never miss a beat!). This isn’t a true given yet but we are hopeful that feet skin grafts won’t be necessary. It sounds as if the cleaning of all wounds will be done and then they will concentrate on her hands with the first of many skin grafts. 

Today was a much more comfortable day for Reese. Her blood pressure continues to improve. They are still working on finding a happy medium for her sedation and pain control. Her lungs are still an issue but they are happy with the progress. She looked pretty as her wonderful night nurse brushed her hair and braided it. She seemed to be glowing today! She will have surgery tomorrow for a spot on her side/back that they have been watching. They feel it needs attention at this time. 

The entire family traveled to Mercersburg tonight to attend Brinkley’s pre-school program where we watched her wiggle and sing…her deep-belly laugh was what we all needed. (Click here to see video) Thanks to Momo (Nina Burdette) for staying with Reese while the rest of the family could support Brinkley tonight. Please, keep your prayers coming…we all have such a long road ahead of us and a lot to fight for.

May 31st Update: Reese had a really good day today. She had a little bit more of skin removed that the doctors had been watching and her bandages changed out. Her breathing continues to improve and the have lessened her dependency on the ventilator but continues to run a high fever but the doctor team feels this is good to help with her healing process. She has received some wonderful balloons and stuffed animals and some wonderful gifts in the last few days and her room is really looking like a young ladies room.  Mom/momo had a good stay with Reese and has her all caught up on her horse book reading. Lots of visitors and support for her today and finished off with a great dinner from Donovan and Stacey Hollingsworth.  A decent day for Patricia.  Fever got pretty high and they had to ice her down – anyone who knows Patricia and how hot natured she is would know this has probably been her favorite part so far.  Patricia finally had surgery today about 1pm. Her surgery was a bout 2 1/2 hours long and went well. The head burn doctor did the surgery so she had the best from the start. He said he felt great about the surgery – got the wounds cleaned up and grafted some with pig skin today.  Dr. Jeng did tell the family that Patricia will not undergo the number of surgeries that Reese will. Patricia is just so much older and has already got too many miles on her body so her body just wouldn’t handle it. He says by no means does this mean that Reese is much worse than Patricia – not the case at all – but Reese is 7 years old and doctors will want minimal scarring for her and as she grows, her skin will need to stretch and change as well. They will work with Patricia the next few days with physical therapy – maybe get her moving a little more, more sitting up, etc. She won’t have more surgery for about a week or so right now. She is still able to hear and see her family…and communicate through nodding yes and no. Mikey tells her he loves her all the time and even asked her “I don’t tell you I love you enough do I?” and she shook her head in what I thought was a “no way”! So she knows and is very aware of her surroundings…her family are surrounding her with lots of love – telling her of all the people who have called, emailed, texted and dropped off food. They tell her who is working at the farm and paying the bills, cutting her grass and just trying to keep her updated on what he life would normally be like…she seems to like hearing about the normal daily routines.

June 1st –  Yesterday was just an okay day for Patricia. When the family arrived her day nurse, Laurel said she was doing good. Her vitals and numbers all were improving. Her respiratory therapist agreed and explained to us that she is still very dependent on the ventilator and after about another week, they will need to take it out because 2 weeks is about the limit for that invasive of an apparatus. They will then do a temporary tracheotomy. Her daughter Laura warned the nurse that once this happens, their troubles will really start – Patricia will continuously tell her all how thirsty and hot she is…she is always those 2 things. Patricia never really woke up yesterday – or never opened her eyes…she did try once but they seemed to be matted shut. She could hear us because she would nod “no” a few times – never any “yes” nods yesterday though. Patricia seemed uncomfortable to Laura as well…she kept “flinching” and wrinkling up her face as if something hurt. So, not sure how she would describe the overall day – maybe “just ok”. The family always try to leave when we know she is good and asleep because if we don’t she becomes very agitated as if she is begging them to stay. Mikey and Laura left to visit Reese, “Reese-Cup”, who had so many of the “Dufford clan” visitors yesterday. Her breathing looked labored yesterday but the nurse said “oh no – she is just starting to fight the ventilator”…they are weaning her off the ventilator more and more. Her nurse described it as Reese’s breathing not being in-sync with the ventilator breathing – so very soon she will be free of that. Donation Calf for Reese and Patricia at the Luau Sale sold for for $54,000 and sells again for 6,000. As well the NY Donation calf from Woodcrest Sale brings $22,000 and Calf will be named Reese and delivered to her. 

June 2nd update:  It seemed to be another “okay” day for Patricia Stiles. She slept all day and rarely was awake to try and communicate. Her her daughter Laura reports that “I got a few nods out if her but not many. I read her many of the cards that have started pouring in so I know she was smiling in there somewhere.” The doctors are pleased with her progress. An eye doctor had also evaluated her and her eyes seem be be ok, treating them with a heavy salve eye drop but they feel her eyes will most likely be ok. She has a lot of “gunk” coming out of her lungs right now so it is hard to see mom lay there and cough that up constantly…but they also say it’s good she is trying on her own to get it out. Yesterday was Reese’s little sisters 4th Birthday party and her Aunt Kelly will be spending time with her so the rest of the family can help Brinkley’s birthday.

 June 3rd update: Yesterday was a tough day for Reese. Her lungs have gotten worse for the time being and they put her on an ECMO machine to basically give her lungs a break so they can heal. She seemed to be doing good this morning and actually has started fighting the machine which is good. They have her off all her blood pressure medications now which is also good. The big thing is she’s stable and Claire and Justin said she seemed comfortable last night when they went back to see her. Patricia seemed to be resting pretty good and would wake up every now and then and was able to acknowledge those there to support her. Her son Zach brought up her a picture of her Cow Tauntra.  (Please note Gary Sauder has donated a copy of this picture to our fundraiser auction).  The nurses report that she hasn’t gotten worse but she hasn’t gotten better and is in kind of a stand still. The nurse said this is usually normal for burn patients and we really won’t know as much until around the second week. She did say that they are worried about her lungs as well and have sent some test off because they believe she does have some pneumonia but have already started giving her some antibiotics if that is the case so they will be ahead of the game. As far as skin grafts go on Patricia they said a couple of the grafts didn’t take but they aren’t worried about that as much because they think Patricia has enough good skin to fix things.

June 4th Update:  The last day have been tough for Reese.  She is a little fighter is continuing to be a amazing child. After her surgery Monday she had complications with her lungs as she has developed a very high powered pneumonia. She became and is still in a very critical condition and has been placed on a ecmo machine which takes her blood runs it through a machine adds oxygen and returns it to her body. This is being done to let her lungs rest and heal and not have to be doing much work for her. 12 hrs after starting this her x rays are showing improvement. She had another procedure yesterday, to check a line in her leg used to help her circulation and stayed very stable through all of this and is now resting and recovering. Claire and Justin continue to ask for your prayers and support for Reese and they are taking every small accomplishment as a victory. After meeting with the doctors team just now the positives are out weighing the negatives and they hope to continue this path hour by hour and day by day. The family passes on their thanks continued support and prayers. We encourage you all to support Mom and Reese in their fight…wear purple for Reese and yellow for Patricia.

June 5th update: The families of Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette were all warned from the very beginning that they would encounter many ups and downs and that things would get worse before they got better…how true those words proved to be over the past 48 hours. Justin Burdette’s update about Reese yesterday made everyone aware of the troubles she encountered. Today she is stronger than yesterday and they only hope that trend with continue each day going forward. Reese continues to amaze us all with her strength – she is one tough little girl! She has the whole world pulling for her and we all believe in the power of prayer like never before. Patricia has been holding her own for a while now and had her second surgery today. She made is through surgery where they did shoulder and back skin grafts and did the tracheostomy procedure. Patricia’s surgeon continues to warn the family about her lungs as she now has pneumonia in both lungs. She also has a few other infections going on and he says it is nothing to take lightly.  Rather than keep her under and really work on all of her wounds and grafts today, he felt most comfortable doing minimal skin grafting today and then of course the trach procedure which he explained was a tough part. Tomorrow is a new day and we all hope for improvements from both Reese and Patricia.

Those wanting to show their support can do one of the following:

  • Helping Heroes: Fundraiser to Support the Stiles & Burdette Families
  • To contribute to Patricia and Reese’s Fund please Click HERE.
  • Lets show Reese Burdette how much we are thinking and praying for her with a card shower! Here is her address: John Hopkins Hospital, 1800 Orleans Street , Baltimore , MD. 21287 Attn: Reese Burdette, Bloomberg 4- South Room # 25
  • Bank account set up for Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette. Mail checks to Capital One Bank 12806 Shank Farm Way Hagerstown , Maryland 21742. Place the names Patricia Stiles and Reese Burdette in the memo of check.

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