Community members come to the aid of little girl with ruptured appendix

Skyla Smith courtesy photo
Sterling Smith snuggles with her unicorn stuffed toy she received as a gift while in the Denver Children’s Hospital. Donations are being raised to help cover medical and family expenses.

Cinthia Stimson

Skyla Smith prayed harder than she‘d ever prayed – and with all of heart – for her daughter’s life, her warm mommy hands clasped over her precious 4-year-old child’s small palm while the two rode in the back of an ambulance all the way from Casper to Denver Children’s Hospital.
Diminutive Sterling had a ruptured appendix for at least a week, but phone calls by her mother with medical personnel in Casper indicated it might be the flu.
So she treated it as such.
Until it got worse.
By then, the little girl had been sick for a week.
On April 29, Sterling was in the emergency room at the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper when they rushed her into emergency surgery.
Doctors operated on Sterling twice, but during the second surgery, the doctor closed up the incision and made the decision to transport Sterling to the Denver Children’s Hospital.
“The doctor said he was shaken, he was spooked, and he had to stop the procedure. He wanted to send her some place where they specialized in this, where they would have a positive outcome,” said Skyla, talking about her daughter’s second operation.
“We were in the (ambulance) 45 minutes after that surgery. I was holding her and praying that they’d find out what was going on. We hear stories about burst appendix. As her parents, our number one question is, ‘Have you seen this before?’ We wanted reassurance that this wasn’t uncommon, but with Sterling, the infection was more than anyone (there) had ever seen before.”
On May 8, Skyla wrote to friends and loved ones via her Facebook page while in transit to the Denver hospital: “I write this while strapped with our 4-year-old baby in the back of an ambulance. Close to arriving at Denver children’s hospital and soon to be (the) third procedure for our princess. As a parent to hear the words ‘It’s pretty bad, she’s not doing well,’ makes your heart sink and panic take over your whole body.”
As of May 13, Skyla said Sterling – the funny little girl who loves to dance, make people laugh, go to preschool and play with her friends – has been through multiple surgeries as doctors try to drain the abscesses and infections caused by the initially undetected ruptured appendix. The newest diagnosis was Ileus, which is a temporary arrest of intestinal peristalsis.
“We call it lazy gut. Basically, her intestines are asleep and the doctors want to get Sterling up and moving around, to have bowel movements, to push gas through and tell her body its awake. They want her eating, but even when she’s offered her favorite foods, or soup, she has no appetite and doesn’t want to eat.”
Sterling has two drains in her body, one on each side. She has a port in her arm that goes into her chest. She has had numerous CT scans and X-rays. The largest of the abscesses are in her pelvis, which doctors are finding difficult to treat.
“They’re hoping the antibiotics will help break them up,” Skyla said.
They’re taking her progress day-by-day. 
Sterling is on major league antibiotics and doctors are waiting to see if her little body will begin responding.
Despite the pain, heavy duty pain medication, multiple procedures, prodding and poking, Sterling manages to smile every day, cuddle her 10-week-old baby brother Grizzlee Tyler Smith, and give pretend medicine to her toy babies.
“Grizzlee was born Feb. 25 and he’s Sterling’s comfort. If she’s hurting, she wants her baby brother and he’s given her the drive to want to hold him and be around him. Last night she even wanted to help me give him a bath, so she sat on my lap and helped bathe him.”
Sterling’s family from both Glenrock and Douglas have been by her side daily. Her father Dalton Smith and mom live in Glenrock. Her other little brother, 2-year-old Daxton, is staying with their grandmother.
“She really misses Daxton – they’re two peas in a pod. It’s so hard for all of the family to not be together, but it’s best for him to be with my mother-in-law right now.”
Until her illness, Sterling was healthy, energetic and always wanted to be the life of the party. She will turn 5 on July 6.
“I just want my baby back,” Skyla said. “She loves making people laugh and smile. That’s just it – it’s so crazy, through all of this, she still smiles. As a mother, this is so difficult to watch, and if I could take it away, switch places with her, I would. I would do anything to have her pain myself and not see my daughter going through this.”
She’s getting her nutrition though an IV, as she’s not eating or drinking. She had her last surgery May 14.
“As to going home, the doctors are taking it one day at a time. The severity of the abscesses and the infection in Sterling’s body make it a unique case. Her appendix had burst over a week before it was found, and it eroded her intestines, hardened on her abdomen, and had to be scraped off. Some days her progress is good, some days not. Just the other day she was puking all day long,” Skyla said.
With Sterling’s parents in Colorado by her side, no one is working, which means three weeks without a paycheck, so far. The medical bills are piling up.
“Dalton has not gone back to work because we never know what each day is going to bring. Will she have a good day or bad day? As parents, with all of this, it is important to be together and be here for her. Having both of us here is her security. There are so many times she calls out for her Daddy.”
Folks all over Wyoming have  pitched in for the Smith family and here’s how you can help them:
• Shatto’s School of Dance will have donation jars set out to collect cash donations during their dance recital, “Vacation – Dedicated to Sterling” at 2:30 p.m. May 19 at Douglas High School; admission is free. For more information, contact Ashley Reed (307) 359-2325.
“Shatto’s School of Dance is continually praying for Sterling. She is a very sweet and sassy little girl. We’re all praying for her. We also help children at the CAJAC Orphanage in Mwene-Ditu, Africa, and the mother superior there said they are praying for Sterling, too,” Reed said.
Reed has taught Sterling in ballet, tap and hip hop dance classes for two years.
• To donate through Paypal send donations to; GoFundMe at and look for Sterling Strength; go to any Converse County Bank branch and mention the Sterling Smith Medical Fund; or visit Here to Help Wyoming at
The GoFundMe account has raised $2,070 out of  a $10,000 goal, although it’s expected the medical bills will be considerably higher than that.
“I hate to ever admit it,” Skyla said, “we are emotionally, physically, and financially drained. Household bills are stacking up and hospital bills are sickening to even look at. “
Above all else, Sterling’s mom and dad are asking for prayers for their little girl.
“Please pray for Sterling and her health. That’s the most important thing. We are so amazed by all of the love and support from everyone all over that’s happening. I can’t begin to express the emotion I feel seeing the donations come in, people who want to help. Thank you all so incredibly much. We are so blessed,” Skyla said.
Anyone wishing to send cards to Sterling and her family can address them to: Sterling Strong Smith, c/o Denver Children’s Hospital, Room 643, 13123 E. 16th Ave., Aurora, Colorado 80045.


Glenrock Independent

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