Family honors doctor who saved toddler’s life
LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -When a Lincoln toddler fell and seriously injured his brain, his parents were terrified, but they put their trust in a Nebraska neurosurgeon to save their son. What followed has been nothing short of a miracle and the family came up with a very special way to show their gratitude.
Benjamin Barton-Wals shows no hints of what happened to him that day in November 2021. He had fallen, hit his head and his brain was bleeding. His parents had to send him by helicopter to Children’s Hospital in Omaha to save him.
“I was just preparing myself that it might be the last time that we held him alive,” said Dona-Gene Barton, Benjamin’s mother.
There, neurosurgeon Dr. Arnett Klugh worked for hours on Benjamin.
“I remember that we’re very, very focused on being efficient and precise,” Dr. Klugh said. “Because we knew that Benjamin didn’t have that much time.”
After much waiting and prayer, Benjamin emerged from surgery.
“He’s always like, loved colors, and shapes and numbers,” said Sergio Wals, Benjamin’s father. “And the first word, he said, coming out of surgery, when he turned around, he identified a triangle. And he said, ‘triangle.’ And I remember turning around and saying ‘He’ll be alright.’”
The family was, and still is, overwhelmed with gratitude for what Dr. Klugh did for Benjamin. So much so they decided to honor Dr. Klugh by making his first name their youngest son’s middle name, Mateo Arnett.
“It was and still is overwhelming,” Dr. Klugh said. “I’m named after my grandfather. Honestly, this is touching. Great that you would graft another family’s name. "
“We just felt like all the signs were pointing towards... and we couldn’t think of anybody more perfect,” Dona-Gene said. “We just, again, we’re so grateful to Dr. Klugh and his team that we know this is going to be a story that they’re going to keep with them for their whole lives. So we thought it was perfect to honor Dr. Klugh with this middle name.”
Now, big brother Benjamin is just a normal 3-year-old boy. He loves popping bubbles, drawing shapes and hugging his little brother, Mateo.
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