Police give child a day to remember

June 22, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

BARDANE, W.Va. - Four-year-old Samantha Gooden has suffered through a stroke, a collapsed lung and a blood clot in her right leg, which eventually led to the amputation of the leg above the knee.

The blond-haired girl also is anemic, has no control of her bladder and has cerebral palsy.

Doctors are stumped over the cause of the complications and Samantha is currently involved in medical studies at the University of Virginia hospital in an attempt to find answers, said her mother, Sandra Carter.

All of that momentarily faded into the background Tuesday in favor of something fun.

Her mother said Samantha always has wanted to ride in a police car and her wish came true, thanks to West Virginia State Police Cpl. R.T. Dyroff.


Dyroff picked up Samantha and her parents at their Shepherdstown, W.Va., home shortly before noon for a ride to the state police barrack in Bardane.

Along the way, Samantha got an up-close look at the police car's radio system, sirens, camera system and walkie-talkies.

After the ride down W.Va. 480 and along W.Va. 9 to the barrack, Samantha was treated to a tour of the barrack and a pizza lunch with about 20 state police officers and other state police employees.

"She loved it. She said she's going to be a cop when she gets older," said Carter, adding that Samantha is a die-hard fan of the television show "COPS" and has videos of the show.

Chris Gooden, Samantha's father, said the ride was a nice break from all the things his daughter is going through.

"It means a lot to us," Gooden said.

Samantha's medical problems showed up shortly after her birth Dec. 21, 2000, at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.

With the blood clot in her leg and a collapsed right lung, she was sent to Winchester (Va.) Medical Center and then to the University of Virginia within about 10 hours of her birth, Carter said.

Doctors at Winchester Medical Center feared Samantha would die and doctors revived her twice on the way to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Carter said.

It is not clear when Samantha suffered the stroke, although it may have been on the way to Charlottesville, Carter said.

Samantha was on a ventilator at the University of Virginia, but her condition improved enough so she could be removed from it, Carter said.

Samantha was placed on blood thinners in an attempt to dissolve the blood clot in her leg, but that was unsuccessful. An infection developed in the area of the blood clot, forcing doctors to amputate Samantha's leg, Carter said.

Doctors have tested Samantha for various medical disorders, including spina bifida, but have not been able to determine what is causing her complications, Carter said.

"Things are happening, but they can't explain it," she said.

Doctors also are surprised at how Samantha has endured, her mother said.

For example, a stroke usually affects one side of the body, and doctors told Samantha's parents that children who suffer strokes usually stop growing on the side of the body that is affected, according to Carter.

Samantha's stroke affected her right side, but the right side of her body continues to grow, Carter said.

Samantha receives all her medical care at the University of Virginia, and her family must travel to Charlottesville at least once a month and stay for several days to allow Samantha to be included in medical studies, Carter said.

Dyroff said he found out about Samantha's plight after a relative of her family contacted him and asked about the possibility of a police car ride for the girl.

Dyroff was ready to do what he could and got permission from state police authorities to give Samantha the ride.

"Just to make her smile was a wonderful thing," Dyroff said after the ride. "We're all humans. You feel compassion when you have an opportunity like this."

At the barrack, state police gave Samantha gifts of a yellow state police T-shirt and a stuffed toy bear. Anthony's Pizza donated six pizzas for her party with the troopers.

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