Boy found clutching beloved dog in fire slowly recovers, but sad news awaits

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Kansas City, MO — A 5-year-old boy who was rescued in a house fire, clutching his dog, will be getting out of the hospital soon.

Marquan Knighten’s father, Jermaine Griffin, says the boy has been making progress daily at Children’s Mercy Hospital.

“His willpower is there,” Griffin said. “He is a fighter. He surprises me every day with something new. He couldn’t use his hands. Now he’s using his hands. He’s starting to walk now and he’s actually trying to run, which I’m like, ‘Hey slow down, you can’t run just quite yet!'”

The mobility issues came from smoke inhalation. Carbon monoxide impacted Marquan’s brain activity, but Griffin says doctors don’t think he will have any permanent brain damage.

Marquan was unconscious inside the house at East 72nd Street and Highland Avenue when firefighters found him clutching his dog. Baby Ann was the boy’s constant companion. The shih tzu and rat terrier mix didn’t make it.

“He mentioned that the dog is at home,” Griffin said, “and he’s waiting to get home to be with the dog, so we haven’t gotten to the point of telling him yet. But he did mention that he was in the house fire, so he’s aware that he was in a house fire.”

The boy’s great-grandma was watching him the night of Feb. 2 when the microwave caught fire. She and Marquan escaped, but Marquan ran back in just as the smoke became suffocating.

“I always told him to put your shoes on before you go outside,” Griffin said, “so he decided to go back in to get his shoes.”

Griffin is a single dad and has been away from his private security job ever since, focused solely on his son.

“I was actually at work when I got the call and I left work to come here,” he said, “so I’ve been here pretty much every day, sun up and sun down.”

He says his son’s favorite super hero, Spider-Man, has played a prominent role in his hospital stay.

“I got him a Spider-Man blanket and a Spider-Man stuffed toy,” Griffin said. “When he first came to, he looked over and saw Spider-Man and grabbed it and was hugging it the whole time.”

Griffin’s friends, meanwhile, have changed their Facebook profiles to Spidey as a show of support.

“Our family is really grateful for the support that we got,” Griffin said.

Besides Spidey, Marquan also has a thing for firefighters, donning helmets and getting photo ops every time he sees a fire truck at a city event. Now his dad’s a big fan too.

Firefighters have offered to get Marquan a new dog when he gets out of the hospital, but Griffin says one step at a time. Right now, he is in temporary housing.

“Right now we are trying to get our living situation taken care of first, so we have a home,” Griffin said. “We can’t have a dog out there without a home.”

Griffin owns the house that burned and is insured. He says he’s hoping to get things livable again in a few months’ time.

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