LINDON — A school bus was no match for 7-year-old Jacob Lindow, a remarkably resilient first-grader who wasn't expected to live after a bus ran him over six weeks ago.
Also no match for Jacob was the tumor growing against his spinal cord, threatening the blood supply to the kidneys, the aorta and the small intestines.
The slight youngster with the shy smile and tufts of straw-colored hair growing back on his head is beating them both.
"We call it a miracle, a series of miracles. He's the answer to a lot of people's prayers," said Ben Lindow, the father of the little boy who remembers slipping on ice and falling under the back wheels of a school bus Nov. 30. The double wheels crushed his left eye, broke his pelvis, both legs and did considerable internal organ damage. The tumor was found while doctors were treating the injuries and might not have been discovered at all if the accident hadn't occurred, his father said.
"When they first called me at work that day and told me he'd been run over by a bus, I wasn't so sure he would even survive. When they told me his head had been involved, I thought we'd be looking at a vegetable," he said.
Instead, Jacob is alive, aware and busy building Legos with his big brother David, who is on crutches after a sledding event.
Jacob is planning to be skating on the sidewalk once the weather clears, a goal not out of reach since he's been walking a little since Wednesday.
"I'm wounded! I'm walking! Am I a walking wounded?" Jacob Lindow asked when he heard the expression used regarding David.
Jacob Lindow is home for at least a couple of weeks between treatments and is planning to visit his classmates at Rocky Mountain Elementary.
He made it home in December for Christmas but for only a couple of days. After he developed a fever and symptoms consistent with an allergic reaction to his medications, he had to return to Primary Children's Medical Center where doctors discovered the tumor.
He has been through surgery for that.
"Life's been pretty lively the last little while," said Ben Lindow.
The Lindows have traded off during the past weeks with Jacob's mom, Eden, basically living at the hospital and Ben keeping track of the family at home.
Neighbors have helped with meals, transportation and gas money.
Even though Ben Lindow's employer provides good benefits, there are a lot of incidental expenses like paying for gas for the numerous runs into Salt Lake, he said.
Jacob's care has already cost between $150,000 to $200,000, and he has several more surgeries ahead, two more just to remove the rods and pins from his legs and a succession of procedures to rebuild the facial bones around his eye.
"I have to go back for surgery," Jacob Lindow said. "It's OK. They don't poke me, only in my back when I was asleep."
Ben Lindow is amazed at Jacob, his attitude and his recovery. He and his wife are extremely optimistic about the future.
Jacob's bumps and bruises are almost gone. He's cheerful and talkative. His bedroom in the living room is papered with encouragement.
Jacob's left eye is intact, but the optic nerve is severed. He won't recover the sight in that eye, but his face should heal so completely that no one will ever be able to tell it was once so badly damaged.
"The tumor they found is benign, and they got most of it. That too, is a blessing because it's something they may not have found without the accident. It has really been miraculous," said Ben Lindow.
Dave Duzy, Jacob's favorite nurse at the medical center, said while the recovery is extraordinary, one can't discount the hard work of all the doctors and medical professionals or Jacob's determination.
"He was quite brave, and he's just a tiny little kid," Duzy said. "And his mom was just great, always there, keeping him involved in reading and art projects. He always had a toy going or something."