Posted on March 24, 2023

Tough Like a Monster Truck: Kaden Recovers After Double Amputation


“He’s my everything,” said Michele Stevenson, about her son, Kaden. When he started to get sick before Christmas, she didn’t think it was serious at first. But after a few days she knew something was wrong.

As 7-year-old Kaden’s health grew getting progressively worse. Michele, of Grand Blanc, Michigan, rushed him to the emergency room at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. Kaden was then flown to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids where they learned he had influenza A and strep A.

While both of these these typically result in common infections with mild symptoms, infections can be serious. In Kaden’s case, the bacteria entered his blood stream and caused toxic shock syndrome (TSS).

TSS is a form of septic shock. It’s a life-threatening condition that occurs when blood pressure drops after an infection. Our bodies can go into overdrive trying to fight an infection, and this means  other areas of the body may not receive enough blood.

Kaden’s organs started to fail, but the team in the pediatric intensive care unit were able to save his life. The damage to both of his legs meant Kaden’s would have to undergo amputation later in his recovery.

“My baby could have died,” recounts Michele. “They call him a miracle, because they didn’t think he was going to make it.”

Weeks into his recovery, Kaden transferred to the Mary Free Bed Kids pediatric rehabilitation program. There, he worked in physical, occupational and speech therapies to regain strength and function before his surgery.

After four weeks at Mary Free Bed, Kaden returned home to await his surgery. Two weeks later, he traveled back to Helen DeVos for his amputation, losing his right leg above the knee and the left leg below the knee.

Post surgery, Kaden returned to therapy Mary Free Bed to continue working with therapists and nurses. “He’s never going to give up,” Says Michele. “He’s going to keep trying until he reaches that goal.”

In all of his therapy sessions, Kaden brings his passion … Monster Trucks. Therapists use his love of these trucks to help keep him motivated and focused on his therapy goals.

As Kaden fights to keep getting better, Michele draws a strong connection between the trucks and her son.

“He’s tough like a monster truck,” says Mom.

Kaden graduated from inpatient rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed this week, but before heading home, he’s a very special experience awaits him in Grand Rapids.

Thanks to serendipitous tour timing and the generosity of members of the community, the Stevenson’s received the gift of his dreams. Kaden and Michele have been invited to join Monster Jam in person at this weekend’s Monster Jam motorsports event.

Media has been sharing Kaden’s journey with the public. Media coverage has included: