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'Miracle' girl drives to operating room

Patients like 4-year-old Ellie Bowman who had a heart and double lung transplant now travel to the O.R. in special remote-controlled cars.

ST. LOUIS — A day in a hospital can be slow and tedious.  

But on this day, it's fast and furious, with RC cars speeding through the halls.

When it comes to caring for kids, St. Louis Children's Hospital is putting the pedal to the metal. These remote controlled cars are now helping patients get to the operating room in style.

"This is a way to bring childhood into the hospital because it gets scary here," explained Nurse Allison Faron.

It's certainly been scary for 4-year-old Ellie Bowman and her family.

Ellie came into this world with a complex heart defect.

"She was born without pulmonary arteries, so there was not a good way to get from the heart to the lungs," Ellie's mom Kali Bowman said.

So, she had to have three heart surgeries in three years.

And they only worked for a while.

"You're waiting for a doctor to come in and give you a good report, 'Hey, this medication is working a little bit, heart function is better,' and you just kept getting bad news, after bad news after bad news," recalled Patrick Bowman, Ellie's Dad.

Sadly, her heart was starting to fail.

"It was as bad as it gets, you know?" Kali remembered with tears in her eyes.

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Ellie's only hope was a heart and double lung transplant but because the wait is usually months or longer, her parents were actually starting to plan her funeral.

"Then she got organs the very next day. It was our miracle," said Kali.

Now, Ellie is back at Children's for her monthly screening.

"That's how we make sure the immunosuppression that she's on for both organs is effective," explained Dr. Aaron Abarbanell.

And she gets to turn the day into Talladega Nights.

"By saying, 'No, you can't drive it until you have a procedure,' then she had to be excited about the procedure part of it because that meant she had to drive the car," Kali said smiling.

All of these kids are like the Ford slogan, 'Built tough.' But no one is tougher than the people who donated the cars.

They were gifts from the families of Elliot Llewelyn and Ryleigh Long who both passed away last Spring.

"They're still connected to us, and so this is a way for them to stay a part of our family and give back in a way that's really meaningful and benefits all of our patients and families," nurse Faron told us.

The Bowmans still take it day by day, but for the first time since Ellie was born, they have hope.

"We might be able to live relatively normal lives so that is very exciting for our family," Kali said.

When it comes to living, here's one little girl ready to get this show on the road.