The nurse who cared for an 8-year-old boy as he fought for his life five years ago just couldn’t believe he remembered her, but he did—and had returned to the hospital to give thanks.
It was every parent’s nightmare. Their 3-year-old had somehow managed to open a bottle of caustic cleaning solution, and swallowed a mouthful. Dwyane “DJ” Pitts was admitted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) in 2013 after ingesting a small amount of the deadly liquid. The dose was enough to burn him from the mouth to the small intestine.
“He was in a coma for eight days,” said mom Natoya Ruff, to 11Alive.com. The chemicals burned him from the tip of his lip to two inches into his intestines.”
He was so badly burned that surgeons needed to reconstruct his esophagus and stomach. He had to spend several months in hospital, and to keep his spirits up, a kind nurse made him a cape out of a pillowcase. Capes signify strength, and children associate them with their favorite superhero. So to be given one in hospital can do wonders for a child’s ability to recover.
“It changed everything,” said life specialist Catherine Shields. “He loved it. He wanted to eat in it. He wanted to go to procedures in his cape.”
He began to be noticed by others as well. “One day, Ludacris was here for an event and said ‘Hey, there is the Cape boy!’” said his mom to 11Alive.
Meet DJ. While powering through nearly 20 surgeries and many months in the hospital, DJ became "Super DJ." This…
His bravery was obvious to his mom too. “I have this costume on, so instead of being DJ, I’m going to be this strong hero and have this braveness about me,’” she said of her tiny son.
Dwayne Pitts, his dad, said the cape “just gave [DJ] more power— to his soul, to his spirit,” told Fox News.
DJ overcame his horrible injuries and continued to wear his cape. The following year, DJ returned to the Childrens, wearing a Green Lantern costume with the obligatory cape, and handed out capes to other young patients, hoping to inspire them to stay positive, while adult volunteers joined in dressed as superheroes. He even took part in the hospital’s expansion, as he pushed the button to demolish a building.
Shields was there too and commented on the effect hospital staff have on these youngsters, “To see this kid who went through so much in the hospital not be afraid to come back—who’s not crying when he comes through the doors,” Shields said. “He’s excited to be here,” reported Fox News.
DJ inspired the staff to hold an annual “Cape Day Atlanta” in honor of all those brave little patients.
“While some superheroes battle scary villains, at Children’s, our superheroes fight something much scarier—illnesses and injuries that many of us could never imagine,” CHOA said online. “But when they wear a cape, nothing is impossible.”
That strong fighting spirit stuck with him, and five years after the horrific accident, he swung through the doors of the hospital that held so many memories for him, resplendent in a Green Lantern cape, ready to hand out capes to other little fighters.
DJ remembered Nurse Colleen, who had helped him through the long and painful months he’d spent there. He came back in bearing flowers and a card for her. He had suffered so much, yet he was prepared to pay forward the kindness he had never forgotten.
“You are doing amazing,” she said. “I’m so happy you remember me after five years.”
Cape Day was inspired by DJ, and it happens every year. His mom was also moved by her son’s spirit. This little boy has a heart of gold.
“That is amazing to me,” Ruff said. “It’s beautiful. I have never seen anything like it myself.”
The superhero cape is sure to help other children who end up spending time in hospital deal with their pain.
Watch the report below:
You may also want to watch this video
Burns Survivor Mum Rebuilds Her Life