Jackson has been through so much in his short life and, at only 12 years old, he is an inspiration to everyone he meets. When he was 1 year old, Jackson developed acute fulminant liver failure and was transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta where he was placed at the very top of the transplant list.
Unfortunately, there were not any organs available and, with over 90% of his liver cells being dead, his Doctors estimated he would not live more than two days. Jackson’s parents were immediately tested to be living donors and, with his Mom being the closest match, they performed the transplant the very next morning – March 8th, 2006. It was a long and hard recovery for Jackson, he had to learn how to crawl and walk all over again, but he did it all with a smile on his face and never gave up the fight.
Fast forward five years – after a routine clinic visit showed elevated numbers, a liver biopsy was performed that showed Jackson was again in liver failure. He was placed back on the transplant list and after a long year, they found a match! At 6 years old, Jackson received his second liver transplant on December 12, 2010. Recovery the second time was much easier and Jackson was back home only 3 weeks later, just in time for Christmas!
Having dealt with this his whole life, he doesn’t know any different – it’s just, his life. He has grown up knowing he has to take medicine every day, that he will have to have blood drawn once a month, what foods he can and cannot eat, and what sports he can and cannot play. But, he doesn’t let any of that stop him. He is grateful for his second chances at life and he intends to live his life to the fullest because of them. He doesn’t take anything for granted and he know that things could change for him in an instant. He loves life and is always smiling and trying new things. He loves playing baseball and even though he can’t play football, he is still on the sidelines volunteering with his school and cheering on and supporting his friends and teammates. People are drawn to him and he is a friend to everyone he meets.
The 11th Anniversary of Jackson’s first transplant is coming up, on March 8th, today, and he wants to something special to celebrate. He is collecting toys, games, stuffed animals, etc. for the kids on the transplant floor. He knows how it feels to have the hospital as your second home – to spend days, weeks, even months on end there, sometimes not even being able to leave your room. He wants to give the kids something fun to do to help take their mind off of what they are going through, even for just a moment, or even just a stuffed animal to snuggle with when their parents can’t be there. He wants to celebrate his second chances at life by giving hope and light to kids who are going through similar situations.