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Living Life to the Max

A Michiana teen is living out his childhood dream.

Since he was little, Max Bishop dreamed of becoming a firefighter. It’s a dream that was unimaginable, since his childhood was spent hooked up to tubes and a ventilator.

“He was born and just a few days afterwards, we realized something wasn’t quite right,” said Tieal Bishop.

Just a few months old, Max contracted a viral infection that affected his respiratory tract. His doctor at the time, Dr. Bunmi Okanlami, vividly remembers the day that she met little Max.

“He was extremely sick, critically ill and required mechanical ventilation,” said Dr. Okanlami. “He needed help to breathe and had a lot of complications from that.”

He was quickly transferred to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

“As his lungs grew sicker, they grew harder and harder and they would pop holes in them,” said Tieal.
“The air would accumulate outside the heart and compress his heart and make it stop.”

Max’s heart stopped several times over those terrifying months.

“At one point, he had so many times that his heart stopped that we were not sure what his brain function would be like after all that was over,” said Dr. Okanlami.

Max’s mother quit her job to make sure that Max got his nine therapies a week for the next two years.

“It’s really been a team effort for the past 18 years,” said Tieal.

If you ask Max, he’s not too concerned about the past.

“You can tell me four or five times over and over again and I don’t remember anything that you said because I was little when it happened,” said Max.

These days, Max is more concerned about his future.

This year, he graduated from high school and got his license. But Max’s biggest accomplishment is completing a majority of his exams to become a volunteer firefighter. It’s something he has always wanted to do.

Max is just one test away from officially becoming a volunteer firefighter. He hopes to pursue that dream, while attending Ivy Tech in the Fall to study fire science.

Max’s mom says from day one, he has always proved her wrong. And she’s extremely proud of his accomplishments.

“Max has taught me so much about never giving up,” said Tieal. “Don’t ever stop trying. Even in my doubt, he proved me wrong,” said Tieal.

Max’s experience sparked a conversation between his mother and his doctor. After quitting her job, Tieal worked around the clock to take care of her son. She had no outside help and remembers the struggle of transitioning back home.

With community support, they started a non-profit called O’Hana Hertigage Foundation. The non-profit helped build A Rosie Place, the only specialty hospital in the state of Indiana focused on children who are medically fragile.

“The biggest benefit of having this here is that children can come to an environment like this where they can continue to develop and grow in an environment that provides sensory input that continues to stimulate their senses,” said Dr. Okanlanmi, a co-founder of A Rosie Place.

Children stay at A Rosie Place for about a week or for a weekend. It gives families another support arm and offers them a break from the 24/7 care. It also offers a support group for families.

Here’s more information on A Rosie Place.

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