Last June the Jones family was spending a relaxing and fun vacation visiting family while on the waters of Moses Lake in Spokane, Washington.
Unfortunately for Cortney, her then 2-year-old son Austin and 1-year-old daughter Emma had to cut their vacation short because both children had flu-like symptoms.
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At first it seemed like Austin and Emma just had the flu, but unbeknownst to the Jones family the severe pain in Austin’s stomach was really E. coli bacteria wreaking havoc on his system. Once Cortney and Ben realized that Austin was not feeling any better, they decided to seek out advice from a trusted family friend, Dr. Matthew Milligan. After careful examination, doctors found that it was much more than just the common flu and was insistent that the young boy be taken to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Washington for further tests and evaluation. While at the hospital, the doctors found that the E. coli bacteria was attacking his kidney. Cortney could not fathom that this had happened to her little boy.
“I broke down in tears and ran out of the room. The doctor couldn’t tell me if he would make it or not,” she said.
From the Children’s Hospital, the young boy was sent to UCLA Medical Center for more long-term care. They were told by the doctors that there hadn’t been a case this bad at UCLA in at least seven years. The family found it difficult to change from one trusted medical team to a whole new medical team.
“It was hard because I already had developed trusting relationships with the doctors in Washington,” she said.
In the middle of all this, the Jones family was in the process of moving from Thousand Oaks to Santa Clarita because Ben was beginning his new job as a financial analyst.
To make matters worse while in the hospital, the bacteria attached itself to Austin’s colon and the young boy was rushed into emergency surgery to remove 11 inches of decaying colon. It took Austin approximately six weeks to get his body working again. However, his kidneys could not be salvaged. The doctors told the family that Austin would need to be on dialysis daily until he could receive a transplant. Luckily, Cortney is a very close match and she did not hesitate to offer up her kidney for her son.
“I think that we have grown closer together as a family through this,” she said.
The anticipated expense for the transplant is around $50,000. Out of pocket so far, the Jones family has spent more than $11,000 and expect to pay at least $5,000 to $7,000 per year for ongoing care. Cortney is a stay-at-home mom and isn’t able to bring in an income because she cares for her two children. Even though the family has insurance through Ben’s job, it is still a hardship to have to scrape together the money that will be needed for the transplant.
The family finds additional help and support from the local church they are involved in at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The members have reached out and offered to babysit, clean the house and even help donate money to the family. Also, Austin is a member of the Make a Wish Foundation which grants wishes to children who have terminal illnesses. The Jones family was able to partner with the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, to help raise funds in Austin’s name. This is to help alleviate the heavy costs of a transplant.
Just before Austin was born, Cortney and Ben set up a blog and documented every aspect of their marriage as well as the ups and downs of her two pregnancies. Once Austin got sick they realized that their blog was not only an outlet to tell Austin’s story and express their emotions, but also to help gain support and donations for the growing medical expenses.
“The best way to donate is to go to Austin’s website,” Cortney said.
To learn more about Austin and to make a donation go to www.cotaforaustinj.com.