Our Story

Jackson is a fun-loving, energetic 9-year-old that came into this world full of surprises! At 3 days old he was flown to a children’s hospital due to an obstruction in his stomach. On day 6 he had a duodenal atresia repair that we had hoped would be the end of his medical issues. Shortly after turning 5, at the end of 2018, Jackson had his first documented pancreatitis attack. The doctors could not find any reason for the attack after a multitude of tests and imaging. He was able to go home after a week, but went straight into another attack within days. His attacks were causing damage to his kidneys and liver as well, and there still was no answer as to what was causing this. He was scheduled for his first ERCP within a month, but unfortunately there were no answers after this first procedure, as they weren’t able to access his pancreatic duct. Unwilling to accept this outcome, his mother reached out to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and their pancreatic care team. They brought Jackson’s case on board, and he would have his second ERCP exactly one month later. We immediately knew we were in the right place, as his new specialist, Dr. Lin, would finally be able to provide some answers. Jackson had other anatomical anomalies that were causing these attacks. In addition, Dr. Lin would find that Jackson also has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EOE). We would continue on this road of attacks, hospitalizations, and ERCP’s for the next couple of years. Jackson was again hospitalized for another attack Feb. 2, 2021. This would be his worst attack, and would eventually do irreversible damage. He wasn’t making his usual turnaround within a week. His pain was only getting worse, and an MRI revealed his pancreas had begun necrotizing and developing pseudocysts. He began to go into sepsis at this point and was placed in the ICU. We weren’t sure we would be bringing this sweet baby home, but with the power of prayer, and every ounce of fight in him, he was able to pull through! This attack damaged his pancreas so badly that it was no longer producing enzymes, and he would begin enzyme replacement therapy for EPI. In November of 2021 his family was dealt another tragic blow, with the loss of his oldest brother to a car accident.
By 2022, imaging of his pancreas was showing that it had continued to necrotize, and his pancreas was physically gone from midline to the tail. He had one final attack at the end of 2022 before heading back to Cincinnati to find out Jackson needed the T-PIAT, while his pancreas is still producing islet cells that make insulin. He was evaluated and approved for the surgery in April. Transplant just took place July 18th with miraculous results!! Jackson still has a long road to recovery! He and his mother have traveled 600 miles to have his life-saving procedure, and will therefore be required to stay in Cincinnati for the lengthy recovery. His first month will be spent in the hospital, and then he will be released to the Ronald McDonald House for a few months while he’s completing physical therapy, and learning everything there is to know about keeping his insulin and glucose in check.

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support. COTA is the nation’s only fundraising organization solely dedicated to raising life-saving dollars in honor of transplant-needy children and young adults. 100% of each contribution made to COTA in honor of our patients helps meet transplant-related expenses. COTA’s services are free to our families, and gifts to COTA are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

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