Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Meet Weston . . . My Hero!!!

Today I want to tell a story . . . a story about one of the most amazing people I know . . . one of my heroes (and I never use the term loosely) . . . a 5-year old boy.  Meet Weston!!!

February 23, 2012 . . . If you'd like to help, I just received the link to make tax deductible donations to Weston via a major organization, Children's Organ Transplant Association: http://cota.donorpages.com/PatientOnlineDonation/COTAforWestonK/

Yeah . . . he may look sweet and innocent in this picture, but I assure you he is up to something!!!  Hahaha!!!  Those wheels are spinning, and he is all boy!!!  Ready to hop up, run with his brothers, chase some ducks, climb a tree, or play in the dirt!!! 

Weston loves life!!!  He celebrates every moment and especially loves spending time with his dad, his mom, and his brothers and sisters!!!!  Everytime I see him, his big brother Easton tells me about his BEST FRIEND and how they share all their toys together!!!!  Amazing kids!!!

Many of you know or have been following Weston updates through the last year on my Facebook page and just want details on helping, so if you'd like to skip to the last couple of paragraphs, that is where I put that info. 

There is one problem . . .

When Weston was 9 days old, the doctors diagnosed him with critical aortic stenosis.  He was immediately airlifted to Duke in North Carolina for a valvuloplasty.  A couple of months later, he had a 2nd procedure to balloon the valve, but the doctors discovered he also had severe mitral stenosis.  After only being in this world for 7 short months, Weston had his first open heart surgery.  They replaced his aortic valve with his pulmonary valve, a new pulmonary valve was placed, and they tried to open his mitral valve.  Something still wasn't right.  Less than a month later, he had a second open heart surgery to install a mechanical mitral valve and a new pulmonary valve.  He was one of the youngest children in the world to have these surgeries.

This is the stuff of which a parent's nightmares are made.

Can you imagine!?!?  Your tiny baby, barely more than a week old, being ripped from your arms and flown to another state to save his life!?!?  To spend half of your baby's first year in this world in a hospital praying and watching your tiny baby have more open heart surgeries than most people have in their lifetime, when you were expecting to be biting your nails as he figured out how to crawl and open drawers, rushing over before he pulled down the Christmas tree, or flipping out that he might be sticking something with germs on it in his mouth . . . I cannot even fathom.

At the age of 3, Weston began having intense pulmonary hypertensive episodes where he would turn purple.  This time, no one wanted to touch him.  Over and over, doctors at the nation's top pediatric cardiology centers echoed that they would not take Weston's case because they didn't believe he could survive an operation.  Fortunately, this little boy is determined and stubborn.  He will not give up!!!  Weston's best advocates -- two amazing parents who love him -- prayed and fought, knowing God has a huge plan for Weston and his life!!!  Finally, after making it clear the odds of survival were not good, one of the best open heart surgeons in the world out of Philadelphia agreed to operate for Weston's third open heart surgery . . . at the age of three.  He continued having episodes and was diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension, and he needs a heart-lung transplant.  The prognosis wasn't good.  Most children with this live no more than about 2-3 months.  That was over a year and a half ago.

Weston is now living in one of the top Pediatric Cardiology units in the nation and is on the heart-lung transplant list.  He loves his friends there but would really like to return to a more "normal" life back home in Tennessee with his brothers, his sisters, and all of his fun animals!!!  Actually, after months in the hospital, his one request was just to get to play in the dirt!!!  Cherish the little things!!!

Weston is a fighter!!!  But even fighters need some allies and help . . . This week, the family discovered that the apartment that is rented throught the hospital is ending the contract, so they have to move soon or pay $2600 / month in rent (this is Philadelphia), and their insurance will pay 80% of the transplant (which will cost millions of dollars by the end of all this), so they will need several hundred thousand dollars. 

I will try to keep you all updated as to local or online fundraisers as they occur.  If you would like to head up a fundraiser or have any fundraising ideas, please send me an e-mail, and I'll put you in contact with the right people. 

If you would like to donate directly to the family, you may send checks payable to Julie Keeton or Adam Keeton to Eastman Credit Union Account #10049037 (yes, you can walk in and make a deposit in that account if there is a local one near you).  This is the account I have used in the past for donations.  Another account should eventually be set up by the transplant organization, but I have no details on that yet. 

Please keep this family in your prayers.  God has carried them through some low valleys, had made some major mountains move out of their way, and has showered them with blessings of love and encouragement!!!  Even in the midst of all of this craziness, they go out of their way to encourage others and stay focused on what really matters in life . . . family and friendships. 

Here is a quick video on the need for fundraising in these situations. 
** Hospital photos used with permission of Julie Keeton.

Also here is the new link to make tax deductible donations to Weston through a major organization:  http://cota.donorpages.com/PatientOnlineDonation/COTAforWestonK/


Rhonda Powers said...

Thank You For Sharing With Us, And Thank Weston And His Family For Allowing Us To Contribute In Some Way, To Make Their Road A Little Smoother.Bless You All! Rhonda Powers

Sandra Sanders said...

Thank you for passing along a truly beautiful story of Weston. Thank you for everything you have done for the Keetons throughout the years, and for passing along fundraiser for them...May God continue to bless you, as it seems he already has..Sandra S.