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8yo heads home after 662 days in Johns Hopkins

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Posted at 1:55 AM, Mar 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 07:18:54-04

It was a party Thursday at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, and it was all for Reese Burdette.  Sunday she will celebrate her 9th birthday, but it’s a milestone she almost didn't hit.

"It was Memorial Day morning of 2014, actually was about 2 a.m. and we got a phone call that there had been a fire," said Reese’s Dad, Justin Burdette.

Reese and her little sister Brinkley were staying with their grandparents in Virginia.  Reese and her Grandmother weren’t able to make it out. 

Because of her injuries, Reese was airlifted to Baltimore.  She had burns on 35 percent of her body, but it was the injuries to her heart and lungs from the smoke that were the worst.

"It wasn't until a week later when she went into cardiac arrest that we really knew the extent of her injuries," Claire Burdette, Reese’s Mom said.

It was a long, hard fight.  Reese needed to be placed on a heart and lung bypass system, she was in a medically induced coma for a few months, had multiple blood transfusions, and two major surgeries.  The team at Johns Hopkins did whatever it took to save her.

"It took pushing the limits of everything that has ever been done in the country, and it took parents like Claire and Justin to say is this possible, I want to keep doing this, we're not done for her," said Dr. Kristen Nelson, Director of Johns Hopkins Pediatric Cardiac Critical Care.

"There was some times when we didn’t know what the next day was going to bring, if there was going to be a next day with Reese or not,” said Justin.  “And she just kept prevailing through anything that was thrown at her."

For 662 days Reese called the hallways of the hospital home.  Getting stronger with loved ones by her side every day.

“That was very important to us,” Justin said.  “We didn’t want Reese to spend any days here alone.”      

The nurses and doctors who spent those 22 months with her are now like family.

"She is the most amazing person I have ever met in my life," said Dr. Nelson.  “She has taught me a lot about perseverance and working hard for what you believe in, and I think she gets a lot of that from her parents."

Friday, Reese finally gets to check-out of the hospital.

She'll be heading home to Mercersburg, Pennsylvania on a ventilator, and will still need to do therapy to work on getting stronger and walking on her prosthetic leg.  But it's a goodbye that's bittersweet.

"I'm gonna miss them all,” said Reese.  “And they're gonna miss me."

"I will absolutely miss her,” Dr. Nelson said.  “But we'll keep in touch, we are linked forever."

Reese and her family will head home Friday morning.  We're told her hometown of Mercersburg, Pennsylvania is decorated in her favorite color, purple, and there will be a parade to celebrate Reese’s homecoming.          

Reese says seeing her cow Pantene is one of the first things she wants to when she gets there, with the goal of walking and showing one of Pantene’s calves this summer.