Kid Coach is a partnership between Children’s of Mississippi and the Ole Miss Rebels to salute pediatric patients. Their inspirational stories remind us of just how truly courageous these young people are.

This week’s Children’s of Mississippi Kid Coaches are siblings Caroline and Luke Puckett of Pearl.

Caroline and Luke both visit doctors at Children’s of Mississippi but for very different reasons.

11-year-old Caroline was born with a group of congenital heart defects; her right ventricle was missing, the main two arteries of her heart were reversed, and her aorta was abnormally narrowed. At the time of her birth, the Children’s Heart Center had not yet opened and Caroline and her family had to travel out of state for three separate open-heart surgeries. Now, she can receive the care she needs close to home. Caroline loves to read and plays wheelchair basketball for the Mississippi Wheelcats prep team.

Luke, age 7, was born with spina bifida. In this condition, the spinal column does not close completely, leaving part of the spine exposed. The day after he was born, Luke had his first surgery at Children’s of Mississippi to repair the opening in his spine. He spent a month in the NICU, lying on his stomach, allowing everything to heal. When he was three months old, he developed hydrocephalus, where excess spinal fluid builds up in the brain. Luke then had his second surgery to drain the excess fluid.

Though he has no feeling in his feet, Luke now has regular physical therapy sessions. He can walk wearing leg braces, but he uses a wheelchair to get around for long distances. And, he tries to jump out of his chair any chance he gets! His mom, Katie, says he is a funny kid who loves BIG. Luke loves to hunt with his dad and also plays wheelchair basketball on the Mississippi Wheelcats prep team.

Katie says what brings her the greatest joy as a parent is seeing how resilient Caroline and Luke are and how they see themselves as having no limits.

Have fun at Saturday’s game, Caroline and Luke. Your friends at Children’s of Mississippi are cheering for you!


The right team for kids

With Mississippi’s only children’s hospital and pediatric clinics across the state, Children’s of Mississippi doctors work together to care for kids at every step, in every location. Supported by the full resources of UMMC, our specialists coordinate optimal care for children like Caroline and Luke.