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Teen collecting DVDs for hospitalized youth

Max Lewis hopes to establish a video library at Doernbecher -

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Max Lewis, 17, sits with a small portion of the DVDs he's received since he launched his donation drive three weeks ago. The effort is Max's project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. When you’re under the weather, a good movie and a favorite blanket might be just what the doctor orders.

But when you’re a teenager confined to a hospital bed, and not feeling particularly poorly, pickings are pretty slim to make time move faster.

At least that’s what Max Lewis discovered a few years ago.

“When I was 14 years old, I developed a mysterious, fast-growing leg infection,” Max recalled. “I was rushed to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital where I was treated with IV antibiotics. Confined to a hospital bed, I passed the time watching movies. The movies helped me during a scary and challenging time, but I noticed the selection in the media library was very limited for kids my age.”

Now 17, and a soon-to-be senior at Gresham High School, Max is aiming to ease the long days for other hospitalized teens. To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America, Max is collecting DVDs to establish a video library for the Child Life Program at Doernbecher. He launched his drive two weeks ago, via word-of-mouth, posters and social media, and has already received nearly 70 teen-appropriate DVDs. On Saturday, Aug. 27, Max hopes to add to the total at a drop-off booth at the Gresham Saturday Market.

Even the soft-spoken teen is surprised by the response he’s received already.

“They’ve been coming in every day,” he said. “I told the coordinator at (Oregon Health & Science University) that if I got two DVDs, that would be a success. But the sky’s the limit now.”

The son of Haley and Steve Lewis, Max was doing some serious yard work behind the family’s home in Southwest Gresham in preparation for his sister’s high school graduation party three years ago. Given he had been laboring among brush and bushes in a green space, the appearance of something resembling a bug bite on his leg wasn’t a surprise. But when the small mark on his lower right calf turned red, swelled and began to creep up his entire leg, Haley decided to have Max seen by a doctor.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - At age 14, Max spent three days confined to a bed at Doernbecher Children's Hospital with an unidentifiable antibiotic resistant infection. The only movie appealing to teens, he said, was Lord of the Rings.“They didn’t know what it was,” Haley recalled. “When the doctor said that Max needed to go to OHSU — they were waiting for him — it was just a shock! Max had worked so hard on the backyard for his sister’s party, so on the way to the hospital, I asked him if he was scared. He said, ‘No, I’m just mad I have to miss the party.’”

Max was diagnosed with MRSA — an unidentifiable infection resistant to most antibiotics. He spent three days confined to a bed at Doernbecher, receiving IV medication, bored out of his mind.

“I couldn’t do much but watch movies,” he said. “They had ‘Lord of the Rings’, but that was about all.”

Although Max is hoping to establish a video library for teens and older hospitalized youth, he is happy to accept movies for younger audiences as well.

“I hope to provide kids with something to pass the time,” he said. “It’s a scary time for a kid to be in the hospital. I know what was like for me. I just want to help the kids.”