"Never imagined having to bring a child home to recover from surgery in a house where I can see my breath," said dad Mike Hixenbaugh.

By Joelle Goldstein
February 19, 2021
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A Texas father is detailing the harrowing experience of rushing his toddler son to the hospital for emergency surgery amid the unprecedented winter storm.

NBC News reporter Mike Hixenbaugh said he "never imagined having to bring a child home to recover from surgery in a house where I can see my breath" — but that's exactly the situation the Houston dad found himself in this week.

In a thread on Twitter, Hixenbaugh explained that the scary incident unfolded on Tuesday night, just after his family had lost power and their home's pipes burst.

"My toddler choked on a peanut in our dark house," Hixenbaugh shared.

In a separate tweet, the dad noted: "I couldn't get a clear and consistent cell signal to contact someone for help from inside our freezing house with no power or running water."

With no other options available, Hixenbaugh said he "rushed" his 2-year-old son "across town on icy roads" to a hospital "that does not have enough water pressure to flush toilets."

After arriving safely, the Houston dad learned his son's situation was more serious than he initially thought.

"Thank god I had signal at the moment when the hospital called me back and said, 'Wait, we found something on the CT scan, he needs emergency surgery right now,'" Hixenbaugh recalled during an appearance on MSNBC Live with Katy Tur Thursday.

"This is midnight [Wednesday] after four hours in the ER," he pointed out.

"I had to zoom back across town," he continued during the show. "Running red lights, through intersections where there aren't even lights on, with my three kids in the back because... my wife didn't want to be separated from us because of the lack of cell service, the lack of power, the lack of water."

Thankfully, Hixenbaugh made it back to the hospital in time — and his son's emergency surgery was successfully performed.

While they were there, the hospital had no water and was forced to truck it in, Hixenbaugh said.

"Nurses and staff are exhausted — many of them away from families stuck in frozen houses — but doing a great job caring for my little guy," he tweeted.

By Wednesday afternoon, the dad of three confirmed that his family was finally back home and his toddler was currently "resting under a pile of blankets with his mom."

Still, though, their home had no power or heat, which Hixenbaugh said felt surreal.

"I'm grateful for the neighbor who brought us warm soup this evening," he shared.

That same day, the family's power eventually came back on, but Hixenbaugh admitted that things were still tough despite his son "doing well."

"I actually am getting a little emotional. I am trying to be a good dad, and it is a challenge right now," he told Tur on MSNBC Live. "It just feels like we just rolled from crisis to crisis this week."

On Twitter Thursday, Hixenbaugh added: "I just refilled our toilet flushing bucket from the tap outside and filled another pot of water to boil so we can wash the kids for the first time in five days."

"Texas is a disaster," he wrote.

Millions of Texans were left without power as plummeting temperatures from the winter storm have wreaked havoc on the Lone Star State. However, as of Thursday afternoon, the number of customers without power was about 365,000, according to PowerOutage.us.

At least 37 people across the country have died in the storm and its aftermath — a majority of them in Texas, according to NBC News — while residents have struggled to survive without power and water.

Officials advised Texans to reduce their energy usage as much as possible, adhere to boil water notices and wear insulating layers to stay warm.

To seek further help, the state has also set up warming centers, and the National Guard has been deployed to conduct welfare checks and help people find local warming stations. For help finding one, call 2-1-1.

This story originally appeared on people.com

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