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June 05, 2014 06:00 PM

Five Years Of Saving Lives

Sioux Falls, SD

It's been five years since Sanford Children's Hospital opened its doors in Sioux Falls. Since then, doctors at the hospital have helped thousands of children. Without the castle, some of those kids would have had to travel to larger cities for medical care.

Six-year-old Charlee Peskey is full of energy and life.

"It's quite entertaining to watch her," Charlee's dad, Ryan Peskey, said.

Her parents couldn't imagine life without her, yet that was exactly what the couple was facing when Charlee was born.

"She was the size of a pop can. Our rings went over her wrists," Ryan said.

Charlee weighed just one pound, six ounces. Doctors had to deliver her 16 weeks early because her mom, Melissa, had a life-threatening complication during pregnancy.

"We didn't have a choice. It was either deliver or die," Melissa said.

Thankfully, doctors were able to give Charlee a 70 percent chance of surviving.

"It's crazy how much stuff they can do these days with the medical advances," Ryan said.

Since Sanford Children's Hospital was built five years ago, the Peskeys have used the hospital every year. Charlee had a feeding tube for five years and got feeding, respiratory and physical therapy at the castle. Her little brother, Axton, also stayed at the hospital after he was born because of jaundice.

"Now we've been able to have almost the full gamut of services here at Sanford Children's," director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Carol Cressman, said.

Doctors at Sanford Children's Hospital treat nearly 3,600 children every year. The hospital has also been able to expand the services offered for kids with cancer and those with kidney failure. Along the way, they've also worked to improve the hospital stays not only for patients, but also their families.

"When we built the Children's Hospital. One of the biggest things we wanted to do is to have space for families, to make sure they didn't feel like they were in the way," Cressman said.

It's all been designed to pave the way for moments like this.

"I thank God every single day for our family. We have been through such crazy obstacles, and I think it's brought us closer together because of it. They are amazing little miracles, and there's nothing better," Melissa said.

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