IT WOULDN'T BE MUCH OF A stretch to call 22-month-old P.J. Allen a miracle child—he has seen his share of wonders. The first came on April 19, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, when the toddler survived being blown clear of the America's Kids daycare center, landing in the street bloody—but alive. The second came on June 21, when he left the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Oklahoma just two weeks after being taken off the critical list. "He's just a strong baby," says his grandfather Willie Watson, 43.
One of six children to survive the bombing—and the last of those in Oklahoma to be returned home—Allen had burns covering more than 50 percent of his body. Almost from the beginning, doctors feared for his life. He suffered a broken arm, ruptured eardrums and a collapsed lung. But on the day of his release he was eating cake at a party thrown for him by the doctors and nurses, who had grown to love him. "He got to where he didn't have much use for us," says Dr. Morris Gessouroun. "He was riding all around the ward in a motorized car his grandparents had brought him; he turned the ICU into a little Indianapolis 500."
There to greet P.J. at the door of the home he shares with his mother, Rochelle, 22, and his grandparents was Muffit, his toy poodle. P.J. still has a tracheal tube to help with breathing, but his burns have healed. Doctors have ordered that he stay mostly indoors for the next two summers, though, fearing sunlight might cause permanent scarring of the new skin. Never mind the restrictions—P.J. is thriving. "I had to fight back the tears going home," says grandmother Deloris. "It's sort of like awakening from a bad dream."
On Newsstands Now
- Amy Robach: 'I'm Lucky to Be Alive'
- Paul Walker: Inside His Tragic Death
- Julia Roberts: Choosing Family Over Hollywood
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine