Respiratory therapist climbs Mount Everest in honor of late Wichita teen

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A selfless act from a stranger is giving a Wichita nurse comfort this holiday season.

Kim Harter is a registered nurse at Ascension Via Christi’s labor and delivery unit. In April 2019, her youngest son, Sam Harter, died after a skateboarding accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury.

“I think about him daily,” Harter said.

Sam was just 15 years old when he passed away. “He was funny. He was a blessing to all of us,” she said.

Harter is not shy about keeping her son’s memory alive.

Memories of him surround her office at Ascension Via Christi, where she has been working for over two decades. Recently, during her shift, she got a surprise from a co-worker.

“She handed me an envelope with my name on it, told me it was from one of her co-workers. It was a note that she suggested that I open up later when I got home from work,” she recalled.

Harter did as she was suggested. When she got home, she found a card filled with photos and a prayer flag from a fellow Ascension Via Christi employee she had never met.

Part of the card reading, “I pray that you may find comfort in knowing that we lifted Samuel up in prayers from nearly the top of the world and as close to heaven as I could get,” Harter read from the card.

Ascension Via Christi Respiratory Therapist Allan Thomas had climbed Mt. Everest, where he left a prayer flag with Sam’s name on it at the top of the base camp.

“I just couldn’t believe that somebody would actually do something like that, for me and my family, and I just was really blown away. I mean, I just cried,” Harter said.

“Sam was an outdoor adventurous kid, too. So, I think the thought that his name is somewhere up there on one of the tallest mountains. He would think that is pretty cool.”

After Sam’s accident, his family decided to donate his organs. Through his donations, he was able to save five lives.

His family works closely with Midwest Transplant now to spread awareness. Harter encourages others to consider signing up to become donors.

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